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Oregon Supports Health of Residents, Youth by Raising the Minimum Sales Age for Tobacco Products to 21

(August 9, 2017)

For more information please contact:

Allison Hickey
[email protected]

Oregon takes important step to protect youth from tobacco use and save lives

PORTLAND, OREGON– Governor Kate Brown and the Oregon legislature took an important step forward to significantly reduce youth tobacco use and save lives by signing Senate Bill 754 which raises the minimum sales age of all tobacco products to 21 years old. The American Lung Association in Oregon strongly supports this new legislation and congratulates Oregon on its passage.

Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death and disease in the U.S., and increasing the sales age for tobacco products could have a big impact on youth tobacco use in Oregon and across the nation. According to a 2015 report from the National Academy of Medicine, nationwide 223,000 deaths can be prevented among people born between 2000 and 2019, including 50,000 fewer dying from lung cancer, the nation’s leading cancer killer.

Tobacco use is a serious health hazard, causing or worsening a wide range of adverse health effects, including lung cancer, respiratory infections and asthma. Adolescents and young adults are uniquely vulnerable to the effects of nicotine and nicotine addiction, causing lasting, adverse consequences on brain development, which continues into the mid-20s.

“We know that about 95 percent of smokers try their first cigarette before age 21, and many tobacco users transition from experimenting to regular tobacco use between the ages of 18 and 21,” said Carrie Nyssen, Vice President of Advocacy of the American Lung Association in Oregon. “This is a critical time to protect our youth and young adults from the dangers of tobacco use and nicotine addiction. The urge to experiment is natural, but that doesn’t mean youth and young adults are seeking to get hooked on tobacco their entire lives.”

Every day, close to 2,500 youth under 18 try their first cigarette and more than 400 kids become regular daily smokers. Two-thirds of 10th grade students and nearly half of 8th grade students say it is easy to get cigarettes. According to the National Academy of Medicine report, younger kids often rely on older friends, classmates and peers to buy their tobacco products. Because students typically do not reach 21 years old while still in high school, Oregon’s legislation would greatly reduce the number of high school students who have easy access to tobacco products.

“The American Lung Association in Oregon thanks Governor Brown and the state legislature for taking this important step to protect public health and our youth and young adults,” said Nyssen.

Learn more about Tobacco 21 efforts in Oregon through the American Lung Association’s “State of Tobacco Control” report.


About the American Lung Association

The American Lung Association is the leading organization working to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease, through research, education and advocacy. The work of the American Lung Association is focused on four strategic imperatives: to defeat lung cancer; to improve the air we breathe; to reduce the burden of lung disease on individuals and their families; and to eliminate tobacco use and tobacco-related diseases. For more information about the American Lung Association, a holder of the Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Guide Seal, or to support the work it does, call 1-800-LUNGUSA (1-800-586-4872) or visit:

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