Bring Oregon cigarette tax in line with neighboring states
My family had a terrifying, firsthand experience with nicotine vaping, which is an epidemic among Oregon youth.
When my daughter was a junior in high school, she suddenly started getting terrible bronchitis. Before that, she was really healthy. She played soccer and did great in school. We couldn't figure out what was causing it because she had always been healthy. Finally she said, "Mom, I've been vaping."
Like so many parents who find out that their children are addicted to nicotine, we were shocked. She said she started because of intense peer pressure, something we've all experienced. My younger daughter is in high school now and she says things have only gotten worse. Vapes are easy to get, easy to hide and more students are using them.
My family's experience is a textbook case of why we need to pass Measure 108. The Journal of American Medicine shows that young people who vape are almost three times more likely to start smoking.
Public health experts know increasing the price of tobacco is the best way to keep kids from picking up a vape pen or cigarette. The tobacco industry knows it, too, which is why they are selling vapes for as little as 99 cents.
Oregon doesn't tax vapes one penny, but Measure 108 will fix that and bring our cigarette tax — which is one of the lowest in the country — in line with neighboring states.
I am so grateful she told me because we were able to get her the help she needed to quit, but the long-term effects continue. Even now as an adult, her lungs are weaker and she gets a couple of infections a year. And the nicotine addiction is so strong sometimes it overwhelms her to the point that she will have a cigarette to quell it, even though she knows it's bad for her.
Smoking is still the No. 1 cause of preventable death in Oregon. Studies show that increasing the vape and tobacco tax will prevent over 19,000 people from starting to smoke and nearly 12,000 premature deaths. Increasing vape and tobacco taxes lowers health care costs for everyone. Today, we all pay the price for tobacco — Oregonians pay $1.5 billion per year for smoking-related health care costs.
Additionally, Measure 108 is accountable and transparent. A bipartisan committee drafted the measure so that the revenue can only be used to fund smoking prevention and cessation programs and to fund the Oregon Health Plan. The revenue can't go anywhere else, and that kind of accountability is important.
That's why parent groups like the Oregon PTA and state teachers and educators are not alone in endorsing Measure 108. More than 220 health care, business and community organizations have come together in this unprecedented, bipartisan campaign, working hard to protect our kids even through these difficult times.
The American Heart Association, American Lung Association, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network — as well as the Clackamas County Business Alliance and the North Clackamas Chamber of Commerce — have all endorsed Measure 108.
Read Measure 108 for yourself and learn more about how it will reduce youth vaping and smoking and safe lives at YesOn108.org. And please vote yes on Measure 108 by Election Day, Nov. 3.
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