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News / Health / Health Wire

Flavored tobacco ban for Multnomah County set to start on Jan. 1

By BEN BOTKIN, Oregon Capital Chronicle
Published: December 20, 2023, 6:55pm

Multnomah County’s ban on flavored tobacco and nicotine products is set to go into effect on Jan. 1 after surviving a court challenge.

Last week, Multnomah County Circuit Court Judge Benjamin Souede denied a request by the tobacco industry to halt enforcement of the county ordinance. The decision likely paves the way for Oregon’s largest county to become the first in the state to ban flavored tobacco.

County officials banned the products to deter young people from smoking and vaping: They often start with flavored products and then get addicted to nicotine. That can lead to a lifelong habit and heart and lung problems. In pushing for the ordinance, public health officials pointed to the prevalence of tobacco flavors such as chocolate, candy, fruit, honey and other products, which they say are designed to lure the next generation of tobacco users into the habit.

Nearly 8,000 Oregonians die every year from tobacco-related illnesses, according to the Oregon Health Authority.

Earlier this year in Salem, state lawmakers considered House Bill 3090,  which would have enacted a similar ban statewide. It had the support of one Republican lawmaker, Sen. Bill Hansell of Athena, and two Portland physicians, Rep. Lisa Reynolds and Sen. Elizabeth Steiner. It passed out of the House health care committee on a party line vote, with Democrats in favor and Republicans against, but died in the Joint Ways and Means Committee.

In December 2022, Multnomah County commissioners unanimously passed the ordinance with the ban. The next month, the industry sued to overturn the ordinance, alleging it was unconstitutional and unenforceable. The plaintiffs are 21+ Tobacco and Vapor Retail Association of Oregon, No Moke Daddy, LLC, and Paul Bates, a vaping shop owner.

In September, Souede ruled in favor of Multnomah County, finding that the state law allows local health officials to pass ordinances like this one. In a release, county officials said the plaintiffs could file an appeal but none has been filed.

“I am really grateful to Multnomah County commissioners for leading the state in so many tobacco-related policies from raising the legal sales age to 21, implementing tobacco retail licensing, and now the restricted sale of flavored tobacco products,” Kari McFarlan, the county’s tobacco control and prevention program supervisor, said in a statement. “This ordinance is another step toward protecting young people from the harms of tobacco and nicotine.”

Health advocates praised the ruling.

“The tobacco industry has targeted youth with candy flavored tobacco products,”  said Brittany Grant, director of the western region for the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, a national nonprofit organization.


Oregon Capital Chronicle focuses on deep and useful reporting on Oregon state government, politics and policy. We help readers understand how those in government are using their power, what’s happening to taxpayer dollars, and how citizens can stake a bigger role in big decisions.

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