Lane County commissioners, acting as both the Board of County Commissioners and the Board of Health*, voted to raise the legal age to purchase or possess tobacco products to 21 throughout Lane County. Lane County is the first county in Oregon to pass such an ordinance. The ordinance (17-01) amends Lane Code, Chapter 9, Section 7.
This includes electronic smoking devices and any component or accessory used in the preparation or consumption of tobacco products, such as filters, rolling papers, pipes, and substances used in electronic smoking devices, whether or not they contain nicotine.
The ordinance will take effect beginning April 13, 2017. It prohibits individuals less than 21 years of age from purchasing or possessing tobacco products in Lane County. The ordinance does include an exemption that allows licensed retail outlet employees between the ages of 18 and 21 to sell tobacco products for their employers.
The approved ordinance does not include a grandfather clause exempting individuals currently between 18 and 21 years of age as was discussed previously by commissioners.
One of the priorities identified in the adopted Community Health Improvement Plan is to reduce tobacco use, especially among youth. Raising the legal age has been shown to be an effective way to reduce youth smoking and other forms of tobacco use.
In March of 2015, the Institute of Medicine released a report detailing the potential public health benefits of raising the legal age to purchase, possess and consume tobacco products to 21. The study results included a 25 percent drop in youth smoking initiation and a 12 percent drop in overall smoking rates.
*The Board of Health is comprised of the five elected Lane County Commissioners; however, it operates as a separate decision-making body with responsibilities that are dictated by statute.
Posted on March 14, 2017