Bend smoke shop owner welcomes Oregon licensing tobacco, e-cigarette retailers to curb youth use

Repeated illegal sales can lead to the loss of the license

(Update: add video, comments from tobacco shop owner)

SALEM, Oregon (KTVZ) – Starting January, Oregon will make it easier to prevent commercial tobacco sales and marketing to teenagers as the state introduces a licensing program for the sale of tobacco and e-cigarettes.

Earlier this year, Oregon legislature passed Senate Bill 587, which requires retailers to be licensed to sell tobacco products and e-cigarettes from 2022. The Oregon Department of Revenue and the Oregon Health Authority are developing the program as part of a comprehensive strategy to reduce tobacco use among adolescents and strengthen enforcement of state tobacco laws.

Rich Johnson has been in the tobacco retail business for approximately 18 years. He owns the Midtown Direct Smoke Shop in Bend and knows that e-cigarettes are widespread among teenagers.

“We have to keep the vapes away from children. I think there is no question about that, and whatever it takes to make that happen, great, ”said Johnson.

Johnson believes enforcement needs to be done at the local level.

“I think there is a great opportunity for Bend to have a local compliance officer who can just be there,” he said. “I guarantee that this will be more effective than the state because the state with the number of people and resources – it’s tough,” he said.

Karen Ard, tobacco prevention and education program coordinator at Deschutes County Health Services, briefed NewsChannel 21 on tobacco use by youth in the area.

About 9 in 10 adults who smoke every day say they started before they were 18 years old.

Among the 11th grade students, self-reported consumption of e-cigarettes, vape pens or e-shishas increased from 19.2% in 2016 to 29.4% in 2018.

In 2018, Deschutes County 11th grade students reported that they consumed all tobacco products (e-cigarettes, mods, vape pens, cigarettes, cigarillos, cigars, hookahs, snus, snuff, pipe tobacco) more than their state average Peers across Oregon.

Here is the rest of the state press release on the upcoming retail licensing:

“Everyone deserves a fair and just opportunity to be as healthy as possible – and that includes living free from addiction to commercial tobacco,” said Rachael Banks, director of the OHA Public Health Division. “Our children deserve strong protection from commercial tobacco products like cigarettes and e-cigarettes. Oregon’s new statewide tobacco retail license will restrict young people’s access to commercial tobacco by helping retailers comply with tobacco sales laws and holding retailers accountable if they make illegal sales. “

Licensing enables the state to monitor the number, location, and density of tobacco retailers in a community. The state can then educate retailers about tobacco sales laws, establish a compliance inspection program, and enforce sanctions if a retailer repeatedly violates the law, including removing the retailer’s ability to sell tobacco.

In 2019, 23% of Oregon 11th grade students reported using an e-cigarette product containing nicotine, and one in five retailers the state controlled illegally sold e-cigarettes to someone under the age of 21. Local tobacco retail licensing programs that already existed, such as those in Multnomah, Clatsop and Klamath counties, can continue in close coordination with the state program.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the US Surgeon General, effectively enforced licensing programs can reduce tobacco use by adolescents. A study of 33 parishes showed a dramatic decline in teenagers’ tobacco sales since they needed tobacco retail licenses. Prior to SB 587, Oregon was one of only seven states in the US where retailers did not require a license.

“Protecting youth from vape and other tobacco products is vital,” said Nadia LeMay, health strategist for the Crook County Health Department, part of the coalition campaigning for SB 587 to be passed. “Oregon finally has a way to enforce sales and marketing laws and keep tobacco from getting into the hands of anyone under the age of 21.”

OHA is developing rules for the start of the new licensing program for the tobacco retail trade and is looking for community partners to participate in a rules advisory committee. People from communities most affected by these rules, including those who have targeted the tobacco industry as well as tobacco retailers, are encouraged to apply. If you are interested in nominating yourself as a member of the rules committee, fill out the application here by Sunday, October 10th.

The new law will come into force on January 1, 2022. To sign up for email updates on commercial tobacco products from the Oregon Department of Revenue, visit tabak.aspx.

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