Preventing tobacco sales and marketing to youth in Lincoln County and across Oregon will be easier starting in January, according to two state agencies.
In 2021, the Oregon Legislature passed Senate Bill 587, which requires retailers to obtain a license to sell tobacco products and e-cigarettes from 2022. The Department of Revenue Oregon and the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) are developing the program as part of a comprehensive strategy to reduce youth smoking and strengthen enforcement of national tobacco laws.
“Everyone deserves a fair and equitable opportunity to be as healthy as possible – and that includes a life free from commercial tobacco addiction,” said Rachael Banks, director of the OHA’s public health division. “Our children deserve strong protection from commercial tobacco products, such as cigarettes and electronic cigarettes. Oregon State’s New Tobacco Retail License Will Reduce Youth Access to Commercial Tobacco by Helping Retailers Adhere to Tobacco Sales Laws and Holding Retailers Accountable illegal sales.
Licensing allows the state to monitor the number, location and density of tobacco retailers in a community. The state can then educate retailers on tobacco sales laws; implement an inspection program to verify compliance; and apply penalties if a retailer repeatedly breaks the law, including removing the retailer’s ability to sell tobacco.
In 2019, 23% of grade 11 students in Oregon reported using an e-cigarette product that contained nicotine, and one in five state-inspected retailers illegally sold e-cigarettes to someone under the age of 21 years old. Local tobacco retail licensing programs that were already in place, such as those in Multnomah, Clatsop and Klamath counties, can continue in close coordination with the state program.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the US Surgeon General, actually enforced clearance programs can reduce tobacco use among young people. A study of 33 communities showed dramatic declines in youth tobacco sales since the requirement for retail tobacco licenses. Prior to SB 587, Oregon was one of seven states in the United States that did not require retailers to be licensed.
“Protecting young people from the onset of vaping and other tobacco products is essential,” said Nadia LeMay, health strategist with the Crook County Health Department. “Oregon finally has a way to enforce sales and marketing laws and prevent tobacco from falling into the hands of those under the age of 21.”
The OHA is developing rules to launch the new tobacco retail licensing program and is seeking community partners to sit on a rules advisory committee. People in the communities who will be most affected by these rules, including those the tobacco industry as well as tobacco retailers have targeted, are encouraged to apply.
The new law will come into force on January 1, 2022.
To sign up for email updates on commercial tobacco products from the Oregon Department of Revenue, visit https://www.oregon.gov/dor/programs/businesses/Pages/tobacco.aspx.