On Wednesday August 9th, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown signed SB 754, increasing the state's tobacco purchase age to 21, making Oregon one of five states, (along with California, Hawaii, Maine and New Jersey) to raise the tobacco age to 21.
The age increase takes effect Jan. 1, 2018 and includes the sale of both traditional tobacco products and e-cigarette products. Oregon's new law focuses on the point of sale, not possession, by focusing on penalties for tobacco vendors who sell to the underaged, rather than punishing the buyers.
An estimated 1,800 Oregon teens become new daily smokers every year. And 95% of adult smokers begin smoking before age 21. By raising the legal purchase age to 21, fewer Oregon high school students will have access to tobacco simply by altering the peer group of students who can now easily access tobacco products, resulting in a 25% projected drop in the number of 15-17 year-old’s who start smoking. Increasing the purchasing age an important step to stave-off addiction and future disease that costs the state nearly $3billion annually in healthcare costs and lost productivity.
Passage of this landmark legislation would not be possible without our amazing legislative sponsors: Chief Sponsors Senator Elizabeth Steiner Hayward & Representative Rich Vial, along with co-sponsors Senator Walt Manning Jr., Senator Richard Devlin, Senator Laurie Monnes Anderson, Representative Alyssa Keny Guyer, Representative Alonso Leon, Representative Knute Buehler, Representative Mitch Greenlick, Representative John Huffman, Representative Johnson, Representative Kennemer, Representative Sheri Malstrom, Representative Dan Rayfield, Representative Greg Smith, Representative Janeen Sollman.
Oregon was slated to become the third state to increase its tobacco age to 21, but legislation in New Jersey was signed by Gov. Chris Christie in late July and, Maine lawmakers overrode a veto of such legislation by Gov. Paul LePage earlier in August.