Washington County (OR) Voters Uphold… | Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
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Washington County (OR) Voters Uphold Law to End the Sale of All Flavored Tobacco Products, Delivering Huge Win for Kids Over Big Tobacco by Resounding 77%-23% Margin

Statement of Matthew L. Myers, President, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
May 18, 2022

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Washington County, Oregon, voters on Tuesday upheld the county’s ordinance to end the sale of all flavored tobacco products – including flavored e-cigarettes, flavored cigars and menthol cigarettes – by rejecting a measure to overturn it (Measure 34-314). The voters overwhelmingly chose to protect kids and public health instead of Big Tobacco profits – by a 77%-23% margin. Washington County is the first county in Oregon to prohibit the sale of all flavored tobacco products. This vote underscores the strong public support for ending the sale of flavored tobacco products and should spur state and local policymakers across Oregon to take similar action. 

The Flavors Hook Oregon Kids coalition – led by the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN), American Heart Association, American Lung Association, Kaiser Permanente and Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids – marshalled strong support to defeat the ballot measure and uphold the law. Parents, youth, educators, health professionals and others joined forces to send the message that Big Tobacco has addicted and killed enough.

Flavored products have fueled the current epidemic of youth e-cigarette use. Nationally, over 2 million kids use e-cigarettes, with a growing percentage of them using e-cigarettes frequently or daily – a sure sign of addiction. And 85% use flavored products. In Oregon, more than 1 in 5 high school students use e-cigarettes.

Flavored products have also long been a favorite tobacco industry strategy for targeting kids, Black Americans, Latinos, the LGBTQ community and other communities.Half of all kids who ever try smoking start with menthol cigarettes. The evidence shows that menthol makes it easier for kids to start smoking and harder for smokers to quit. 

In addition, cheap, flavored cigars – sold in hundreds of flavors like cherry dynamite, tropical twist and chocolate – have flooded the market in recent years and fueled the popularity of these products with kids. The 2021 National Youth Tobacco Survey shows that cigars are the second most popular tobacco product (after e-cigarettes) among all high school students and are especially popular among Black high school students.