SALEM, Ore. — A bill aimed at banning all online and telephone sales of vaping products in Oregon has passed the House of Representatives, Democrats announced on Tuesday. Supporters of the bill say that it is intended to rein in the prevalence of vaping among teens.
“In 2018, I conducted a 'There Oughta Be a Law' contest in my district,” said Rep. Pam Marsh, D-Ashland, the chief sponsor of the bill. “I received many interesting and worthy entries, but one submitted by a group of Ashland High School students stood out. These students reported that, despite age restrictions, their peers obtain e-cigarettes by ordering them on the internet. They said we should ban internet sales. They were right.”
Lawmakers cited reports from the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) and Centers for Disease Control (CDC) that demonstrate a spike in youth vaping over the past several years. OHA says that one in four 11th graders in Oregon report having used a nicotine vaping product, and overall use of e-cigarettes by youth has risen 80 percent between 2017 and 2019.
A 2019 Healthy Teens survey — also from OHA — reportedly found that 71 percent of youth who use "conventional tobacco products" started with vaping products.
In her testimony to lawmakers, Grants Pass High School student Abby Durant said "if I really wanted to get a vaping product, I could. It's not that hard."
Rep. Rachel Prusak, D-West Linn, a nurse practitioner and another sponsor of the legislation, said she is tired of seeing her patients die premature and painful deaths because of the impacts of tobacco.
“Too often, the working poor are targeted by big tobacco in their youth,” Rep. Prusak said. “Recognizing that most tobacco and nicotine users become addicted at a young age, I am very supportive of a policy specifically aimed at creating barriers to youth access and would further support recommendation that e-cigarettes be regulated and legislated in the same ways as combustible cigarettes and other tobacco products.”
The bill passed in the House with little resistance, 41 to 18. Democrats all voted in favor of the bill, while Republicans largely voted against — with a handful crossing party lines to vote in favor. House Bill 4078 now goes on to the Senate for consideration.
If passed, the policy would be enforced by the the Oregon Department of Justice’s Tobacco Enforcement Unit.