Legislation passed in 2017 raising the minimum age of tobacco purchases in Oregon from 18 to 21 appears to be effectively keeping young people from smoking.
Senate Bill 754, or Tobacco 21, went into effect Jan., 2018. In the last year, data from Oregon Health Authority show, the percentage of Oregonians surveyed who are ages 13-17 and started smoking for the first time decreased from 34% to 25%, and for people ages 18-20, it decreased from 23% to 18%.
Fewer current smokers also reported buying tobacco products, and Oregonians under 21 said it was more difficult to obtain tobacco products.
Oregon is one of five states that has increased the legal age to buy cigarettes and vaping products. Tom Jeanne, deputy state health officer and epidemiologist, said in a statement, "With this and our strong Indoor Clean Air Act, Oregon is a national leader in protecting youth from tobacco use."
While smoking has decreased some among Oregon youth since Tobacco 21 went into effect, OHA reports that retailers outside the Portland Metro area are less likely to ask for proof of age.
"Oregon is one of only nine states that does not have tobacco retail licensure," OHA wrote in its report. "Requiring retailers to obtain a license to sell tobacco can improve enforcement of the sales age."