Oregon Legislature Raises Tobacco Sales Age to 21; Gov. Expected to Sign

SALEM, OR — In Oregon, if you’re an adult 21 years of age or older, you can legally purchase marijuana and alcohol. Soon, however, you may need to be 21 in order to buy cigarettes and other products containing tobacco or nicotine.

In a move aimed at preventing younger adults from taking up smoking in the first place, the Oregon House of Representatives on Thursday ratified previous action by the Oregon Senate in passing Senate Bill 754.

The bill is supported by Governor Kate Brown, but the measure needs one final stop in the Senate before it can head to her desk for final approval.

The bill was amended in the House Rules Committee to remove language that also would have banned the possession of tobacco products by people under 21.  SB 754 will need to briefly return to the Senate floor for a concurrence vote before heading to the Governor’s desk.

Once the measure becomes law, as expected, Oregon will join Hawaii and California as the third state to raise the legal minimum age to purchase tobacco and nicotine products to 21.

“In Oregon, alcohol and recreational marijuana sales are already set at age 21,” said Eric Brodell of the Preventing Tobacco Addiction Foundation in a statement. “Tobacco, which kills almost 500,000 Americans each year, is clearly more dangerous to kids.”

Brodell notes that raising the age to 21 has strong support in national polls, with upwards of 75% support, including 70% of smokers.

The bill was sponsored by State Senator Elizabeth Steiner-Hayward, a Democrat, and more than 15 bi-partisan co-sponsors.

“As a physician, I’m committed to passing legislation to improve the health and lives of Oregonians,” said Senator Steiner Hayward. “If signed by the governor, this new law will go a long way to preventing cancer as well as heart and lung disease.”

Senate Bill 754 would go into effect on January 1, 2018.

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