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County commissioners banned the products before Plaid Pantry pushed the issue on the ballot.

TRIBUNE PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE  - Washington County voters upheld a ban on flavored tobacco.Washington County voters overwhelmingly upheld a ban on sales of flavored tobacco.

According to election returns released by the Secretary of State's Office Tuesday evening, 76 percent of ballots were against a repeal of a county policy banning sales.

The ban is the first of its kind among Oregon counties. County Commissioner Nafisa Fai and other proponents of the ban have pointed to data provided by health organizations like the American Lung Association and the American Cancer Society showing an increase in flavored tobacco products, which are often marketed to children.

"The result tonight is clear. We will not let big tobacco hook a new generation of kids on flavors of tobacco that no adults will buy," Fai said over the phone following the release of the initial results. "I'm excited to say that Washington County was the first but cannot be the last. Now is the times for my colleagues in Multnomah to finish this work, and I will be encouraging the legislature to support a statewide ban."

County commissioners originally passed the policy banning flavored tobacco in November before Plaid Pantry chief executive Jonathan Polonsky successfully gathered enough signatures to put the issue up to voters.

On the ballot, the measure read "Should ordinance 878, prohibiting flavored tobacco products, machine sales, coupons, discounts, and moveable sales of tobacco products, be repealed?"

Polonsky tried to challenge the wording of the measure, which required voters to vote "yes" against the ban or "no" in favor of the ban, in Washington County Circuit Court, but a judge upheld the measure.

Polonsky told the Pamplin Media Group earlier this month if a majority of voters choose "no," he intends to appeal the results to an appellate court to determine whether the results of the election are valid based on the ballot language.

According to Tuesday's results, 66,192 ballots were in favor of the ban l while 20,089 were against it.


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