An update on our local tobacco work in Oregon

For the last several years the American Heart Association has been working with partners to lead a coalition, Flavors Hook Oregon Kids, to restrict the sale of flavored tobacco products in Oregon. Most addiction to tobacco starts in adolescence. In fact, nine of 10 adults who smoke report that they started smoking before turning 18. Studies show that the younger someone is when they start smoking, the harder it is to quit. Flavored e-cigarettes are driving the youth e-cigarette epidemic. More than 95% of middle and high school students who use e-cigarettes report using flavored products.

In December of 2021, Washington County was the first county in Oregon to pass a policy to restrict the sale of these deadly products that are marketed to kids. And even though we were able to defend that win on the ballot in May of 2022, the tobacco industry turned to the courts in their attempt to continue their pursuit of replacement smokers.

In December of 2022, Multnomah County followed in Washington Counties footsteps and passed their own policy to restrict the sale of flavored tobacco. But yet again, the tobacco industry is using the court system to prevent that policy from going into place.

Even now in January 2024 we are waiting for these cases to finish their due process and neither policy is being implemented. Tobacco use is the number-one cause of preventable death and disease in our state and each year, tobacco use kills over 8,000 Oregonians, costing almost $5.7 billion in medical expenses and lost productivity. The burden of tobacco is not distributed equally. People living with lower incomes, less education, and marginalized social groups smoke at higher rates than other social groups. Consequently, they suffer a disproportionate burden of tobacco-related illness and death.

We aren’t giving up this fight. Our kids are worth the time and effort these campaigns take to cross the finish line, and we hope you will continue to stand with us.


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