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Protecting Children and Youth

Whether or not you have children of your own, we all have a stake in protecting young people in Oregon from the tobacco industry. Together we can help children and youth avoid a lifetime of addiction. 

Many of the wins shared on this site are designed to protect children and youth, from limiting tobacco marketing to creating tobacco-free spaces. Below are a few more especially for young people.

Tobacco retail licensing

Oregon youth have an added protection from the tobacco industry. As of January 2022, retail stores need a license to sell tobacco or inhalant delivery systems (IDS) products (which are also called “e-cigarettes” or “vape”). This lets the state track where tobacco is being sold and ensures businesses follow all tobacco laws, including not selling to people younger than 21. The law also gets rid of penalties for youth possession and use of tobacco, which reduces reasons that police might single out youth

Before Governor Brown signed Senate Bill 587 into law, Oregon was one of only seven states without a statewide tobacco retail license program. Studies show that nearly 90% of people who use tobacco start before they turn 18, so keeping young people from starting is a priority. Based on experience from other states, tobacco retail licensing does just that.

Tobacco retail licensing is an important step toward reducing tobacco use among youth. 

If you see a retailer selling tobacco products without a license, without checking ID, or selling to someone younger than 21, you can report it by emailing Tobacco.Inspections@state.or.us or calling 971-673-0984.

If you’re a tobacco retailer, visit www.healthoregon.org/tobaccoretailsales for more information on tobacco sales laws in Oregon and how to get a tobacco retail license.

Hooray for Tobacco 21!

In August 2017, Oregon Governor Kate Brown signed Senate Bill 754, raising the legal age for buying tobacco products from 18 to 21 years. The law took effect Jan. 1, 2018. Early reports showed that fewer youth and young adults started smoking after the law took effect, and that they thought tobacco and vaping products were less easy to get. In 2019, the FDA followed Oregon’s lead and raised the federal minimum age to purchase all tobacco products from 18 to 21.

What you can do

The retail environment — especially convenience stores — is where the tobacco industry markets most heavily to kids. To push back, many counties in Oregon are considering a tobacco retail license for stores that want to sell tobacco. If you want to help protect our children and youth from tobacco, here are some things you can do: