Tobacco use remains the leading cause of preventable death and disease in the United States and in Oregon. To address this enormous toll, the American Lung Association in Oregon calls for the following actions to be taken by our elected officials:
- Raise tobacco taxes with a portion of the new revenue dedicated to tobacco prevention and cessation programs;
- Secure additional funding for Oregon's Tobacco Prevention and Education Program; and
- Defend Oregon's Indoor Clean Air Act.
During the 2017 legislative session, the American Lung Association in Oregon's main focus was Senate Bill 754, which proposed raising the minimum sales age for all tobacco products to 21 years old. Senator Elizabeth Steiner Hayward championed this legislation that had the support of many public health and other organizations. Oregon youth engaged and testified in support of this legislation, and spoke at a press conference where Gov. Kate Brown spoke in support of this policy. Senate Bill 754 passed both houses with bi-partisan support and was signed by Governor Brown on August 9, 2017. The law took effect on January 1, 2018. The American Lung Association in Oregon is pleased to have Oregon join four other states in taking this additional step to protect youth from purchasing tobacco products.
Oregon's successful Tobacco Prevention and Education Program received a $3.6 million cut to its program over the next two years, despite advocates fighting for maintaining current funding levels. The Tobacco Reduction Advisory committee is working on strategies to minimize the public health effect of this significant reduction.
Several other tobacco policy bills were introduced during the 2017 session. Several bills were introduced to raise tobacco taxes, after an increase was included in Governor Brown's proposed state budget. While the legislature is generally supportive of raising the cigarette tax, the Lung Association and partners were unable to move a successful increase through the legislative process. Taxation of electronic smoking devices, tobacco retail licensure and removing preemption were also unsuccessful.
The American Lung Association in Oregon joins together with the Oregon Healthy Authority and partners to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Oregon's Indoor Clean Air Act. The legislature passed comprehensive smokefree protections in 2007 and the law continues to protect the health of Oregonians and reduces the number of residents affected by secondhand smoke.
The American Lung Association in Oregon will continue to support policies and legislation to improve the health of the state. During the short thirty-day legislative session in 2018, tobacco prevention advocates will continue to educate legislators on the benefits of increasing tobacco taxes and adequately funding tobacco prevention and cessation programs.