Legal tobacco age rises to 21
Young adult Oregonians are no longer able to legally buy or obtain tobacco products, with a law revision raising the minimum purchase age from 18 to 21.
Senate Bill 754, known as Tobacco 21, was signed into law by Oregon Gov. Kate Brown in early August, though enforcement and fines began Jan. 1. Oregon is the fifth state to increase the age for tobacco usage, following California, Hawaii, Maine and New Jersey.
Under the new law, retailers can no longer sell tobacco products or inhalant delivery systems, such as pipes or vaporizing devices, to people younger than 21. Violations of the law are punishable by a fine of $50 for employees, $250 for store managers and $500 for store owners. For managers and owners, the fines double by the third offense.
"The earlier kids start using tobacco, the more at risk they are for becoming addicted to tobacco and developing chronic diseases such as heart disease, asthma and cancer," said Katrina Hedberg, Oregon's state health officer and epidemiologist. "Raising the legal sale age for tobacco products to 21 can reduce smoking rates and reduce tobacco-related deaths."
According to Hedberg, 9 of 10 adults report they started smoking before they were 19, and nearly 100 percent start before age 26.
Oregon Health Authority's Public Health Division is authorized to enforce the minimum age of tobacco sales law and coordinates with the Oregon State Police to conduct state-sponsored compliance inspections.