Oregon is on track to potentially become the third state in the nation to raise its tobacco age minimum to 21 following Thursday’s vote by Senate lawmakers. - From The Columbian
Senate Bill 754 cleared the chamber in a 19-8 vote and now heads to the House.
State budget officials say the Oregon proposal would drop tax revenues by an estimated $1.76 million — less than 2 percent of total tobacco revenues — in the upcoming 2017-19 budget, which has a $1.6 billion projected shortfall.
The Oregon Health Authority also says the measure could take a bite out of the $2.5 billion in tobacco-related medical costs that burden taxpayers every year.
But the bipartisan proposal was criticized by some Senate Republicans as discriminating against young adults who are otherwise legally old enough to vote, join the military, own a house, drive a car and pay taxes.
Elizabeth Steiner Hayward, one of the bill’s Democratic sponsors, said she understands critics’ concerns, but noted that voters and military members under 21, for instance, also can’t legally have a beer or, in places like Oregon, buy legal pot.