Q&A for Proposed Tobacco Ordinance 878

Washington County Department of Health and Human Services – Public Health Division has drafted a Tobacco Ordinance to protect the health of Washington County youth. Here are answers to some questions you may have about the proposed ordinance.

What is proposed Ordinance 878?
The ordinance will prevent access of tobacco, flavored products, synthetic nicotine and inhalant delivery systems to individuals under 21 years old. To achieve this, Washington County Public Health is proposing all flavored tobacco products be sold only in 21-and-over establishments, and price promotions and discounts are prohibited.

Who will the ordinance apply to?
If passed, the ordinance will apply to all businesses that sell tobacco and/or vape products in Washington County, Oregon. 

What is tobacco retail licensing?
During the 2021 legislative session, Oregon passed statewide tobacco retail licensing. This means that all businesses that sell tobacco, nicotine products and inhalant delivery systems will be required to obtain a license to sell the product to consumers. This is similar to what is already required of businesses that sell alcohol or marijuana.

When will it go into effect?
If passed, the ordinance will go into effect January 1, 2022, to coincide with the launch of the statewide tobacco retail licensing program.

How did you decide to restrict flavored products to people 21 and over?
Youth tobacco use is increasing in Washington County, and the tobacco industry continues to use marketing strategies that target children. The advent of new products such as flavored e-cigarettes, and synthetic nicotine have contributed to that rise. In 2018, 30% of Washington County high school students surveyed reported having tried an electronic/vaping device. Additionally, 55% of youth reported that it is too easy to get e-cigarettes, while 40% have reported that it's easy to acquire traditional tobacco products. 

Flavors continue to be attractive to youth. In Oregon, 63% of sixth graders and 75% of 11th graders reported using flavors if they used a tobacco product. Restricting flavored products to establishments that are 21 and over align sales with the legal age group. It also prevents youth from being enticed to experiment and potentially develop a lifelong addiction to these products.

How did you decide to prohibit price promotions and discounts?
Youth and young adults are more price-sensitive than older adults. Lower prices encourage youth to initiate tobacco use and, along with coupons and other price discounts, encourage youth to move from experimentation to regular smoking. Research has estimated that smoking rates would drop by 13% if price promotions were prohibited nationwide.

How will this ordinance be enforced?
This ordinance will be enforced along with the new statewide tobacco retail license law. Businesses will be inspected annually to ensure compliance with the tobacco retail license as well as compliance with the Washington County ordinance.

How can I make my opinion on this ordinance known?
A public hearing on the ordinance is scheduled for Tuesday, October 19, 2021, at 10 a.m. This meeting will take place on Zoom. At this time, any person may testify for up to three minutes. Please see the complete guidelines on testifying. If you cannot attend the public hearing or don't want to testify, you can send a written testimony to the Board of Commissioners through this form: English/español. Please complete and submit the form by 2 p.m. on October 18.