A new bill introduced earlier this year in the Oregon Senate could result in a variety of new rules for selling tobacco in the state.
The most notable of these changes would be that purchasing tobacco products would become illegal for those under the age of 21, effective Jan. 1, 2016. Currently, customers must be 18 to purchase tobacco products in Oregon, but S.B. 663 doesn’t stop there.
Retailers selling tobacco products or “inhalant delivery systems”—i.e. any e-cigarette or non-medical marijuana vaping device—would become subject to licensing by the Oregon Liquor Control Commission. Retailers would be required to be 1,000 feet from a school—although some grandfathering provisions exist—and prevented from letting anyone under 18 into the premises. They would also be prevented from selling both tobacco and alcohol and allow for “sampling”—i.e. smoking—in their stores.
In addition, language in the bill would limit the amount of discounts that could be offered. Specifically, offering tobacco products “for free or at a nominal price for the purpose of promoting the tobacco product” would be illegal. In addition, offering discounts on “multiple packets” of the same tobacco product would also be banned.
Fines for selling product to those under the age of 21 would be capped at $2,000 per offense, while violations for the rest of the new rules are limited to no more than $5,000 per violation. The new licensing requirements wouldn’t go into effect until July 1, 2017.
S.B. 663 enjoys bipartisan support, as does the accompanying bill in the state’s lower chamber. It most recently passed a roll call vote and was sent to the Senate Committee on Finance and Revenue.
At least one state appears headed to a Jan. 1, 2016 increase in the minimum age to purchase tobacco, as a bill in Hawaii already passed its Senate vote and is awaiting a signature from Gov. David Ige in order for it to become law.