Age to Buy Tobacco Increases to 21

Governor Brown signs bill to increase age to purchase tobacco to 21

Guidelines outlined for tobacco retailers to comply with new law

Newport, Ore. — In August, Oregon Governor Kate Brown signed a new law raising the required minimum age to legally buy or obtain tobacco products from 18 to 21. Oregon is the fifth state to implement this type of law, often coined ‘Tobacco 21.’ The new law takes effect immediately, with enforcement and fines to begin January 1, 2018.

This year, Oregon celebrates 20 years of tobacco prevention work, and Tobacco 21 is a step forward in this work and in protecting the health of Oregon youth. Tobacco is highly addictive and starts early; 90% of individuals report starting tobacco use before turning 18 and nearly 100% before turning 26.

Youth Statistics in Lincoln County:

  • 13.5% of 11th graders report using some form of tobacco products
  • 9 in 10 retailers sell favored tobacco
  • Nearly 1 in 2 retailers display tobacco advertising outside
  •  33% of retailers sell tobacco at discounted prices

“This new law offers a powerful component for public health to combat the tobacco industry’s continuing efforts to secure life-long users of their products,” states Lincoln County Health and Human Services Director Cheryl Connell. “It gives this age group the means to avoid becoming a tobacco user, and therefore, the opportunity to live longer and healthier lives free from tobacco addiction.”

Tobacco use increases risks for chronic disease like asthma, heart disease, and cancer. In Lincoln County approximately 64% of adults have at least one chronic disease. Tobacco control strategies like raising the age of tobacco use and creating tobacco free spaces will help to reduce the rates of these chronic diseases.

“Lincoln County tobacco use remains much higher than the state average.” said Rebecca Austen, Public Health Division Director, Lincoln County Health and Human Services. “The Lincoln County Board of Commissioners is in the process of passing an ordinance prohibiting tobacco use on all county properties, including parks. This is another example of changing policies to protect the public from harmful effects of tobacco use including second hand smoke.”

Information for retailers & certified smoke shop owners:

  • Effective immediately, retailers and certified smoke shops can no longer sell tobacco products, inhalant delivery systems, or tobacco delivery systems to people younger than 21. There are no exceptions for sales and use of tobacco or inhalant delivery systems to persons under 21 years of age.
  • Retailers and certified smoke shops that sell tobacco products or inhalant delivery systems are required to display a sign stating the prohibition of tobacco product or inhalant delivery system sales to persons younger than 21. Failure to post a sign stating this would be a Class A violation.
  • Enforcement of this law goes into effect Jan. 1, 2018.

Local Tobacco Prevention and Education Program (TPEP) staff will work diligently to get information out to local retailers in order to help in following the new law. Unfortunately because Lincoln County does not yet have a Tobacco Retail Licensing (TRL) system in place to create an inventory of all local tobacco retailers, it may be challenging to get information out to all retailers so please don’t hesitate to reach out to the local TPEP Coordinator, Samantha Schafer 541-265-6611 ext. 3281 for more information.

Learn More:

For more information about tobacco prevention and the work being doing in Lincoln County, visit http://smokefreeoregon.com/what-you-can-do/lincoln-county-2/