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Oregon Changes Minimum Age To Vape

Oregon Changes Minimum Age To Vape

Starting on January 1, the Oregon Health Authority and Oregon State Police said that they would start enforcing a law that raises the legal age for purchasing both tobacco or vapor products from 18 to 21 years old.

This makes Oregon the fifth state to raise the legal nicotine consumption age in the United States. The law was met with pushback from tobacco lobbyists and had mixed responses from locals in the Oregon vaping community.

Mixed Feelings

Mike Honan, who co-owns the Salem-based Valley Vapors, said that while it might hurt sales, because some of his customers are between 18 and 21, that he could see the practical effects the legislation would provide.

"I wouldn't want my kids vaping at a young age," Honan said to the Statesman Journal in March of 2017. He added that while some of Valley Vapors' customers can be between the ages of 18 and 21, most are at least in their mid-20s.

"I don't have a problem with reasonable legislation," he said.

Others, like Catherine Kaiser, of Salem, were not so happy. She was most concerned about vaping being lumped in with smoking cigarettes. She wrote committee members and urged them to give different considerations to vaporizers and said she worried about 18- and 19-year-olds employed at vapor shops losing their jobs.

Kaiser expanded her criticism and said the bill seemed like government overreach.

"I do not agree with anyone under 18 smoking or vaping, but I do think that is a parental issue and not a legislative issue to parent other people's children," she said. "I believe the government is overstepping their bounds on this."

Signed Into Law

The proposal was signed into law by Governor Kate Brown back in August, making Oregon the fifth state to increase the legal age for buying and possessing cigarettes and other tobacco products from 18 to 21. The other states include California, Hawaii, Maine, and New Jersey.

Budget experts anticipate a drop in Oregon's tax revenue from tobacco by $1.76 million in the upcoming two-year budget as a result of tighter age restrictions, adding slightly to the state's projected $1.6 billion budget shortfall.

Oregon's new law aims to crack down on tobacco vendors who sell to the underaged, rather than punish the buyers. Fines for store clerks and managers who sell tobacco products to minors start at $50 and $250, but can reach $500 and $1000 after multiple offenses.

Previously, Gov. Brown had expanded the Oregon Indoor Clean Air Act (ICAA) to include the use of "inhalant delivery systems," which include e-cigarettes, vape pens, e-hookah and other devices. This law restricting the use of vape devices in workplaces, restaurants, bars and other indoor public places in Oregon, and went into effect January 1, 2016.