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Governor Brown applauds 'Tobacco 21' passage in visit to Cottage Grove

Governor Kate Brown was in Cottage Grove to celebrate Lane County's achievements in tobacco prevention, May 19, 2017. (SBG photo)

COTTAGE GROVE, Ore. -- Governor Kate Brown was in Cottage Grove Friday to celebrate Lane County's achievements in tobacco prevention.

She applauded the passage of Tobacco 21 in Lane County and says she hopes the state follows the county's lead in raising the legal age to purchase tobacco to 21 years old.

She's especially excited about how Cottage Grove high schoolers are joining that effort.

"Their mission is very very clear,” Brown said, “to develop healthy opportunities and environments for their peers and their communities."

Some students in attendance make up the Cottage Grove Youth Advisory Council.

"The Cottage Grove Youth Advisory Council has taken a leadership role in preventing young people from starting to smoke,” Brown said, “and I just wanted to applaud their leadership and extraordinary engagement in the process."

They participate in city council meetings and at the capitol to help end youth tobacco use.

"We're going to reduce (the number of) kids using tobacco and give kids other opportunities, safer opportunities, to get involved with, like sports, and in their community, instead of doing negative things that will reduce your health,” said Victoria Raade with the youth advisory council.

"Everyone in the community should be proud of what you've built here,” said Brown. “It's really extraordinary."

She's advocating a bill in the House right now that would raise the legal age of tobacco purchase to 21 across the state.

"I want to make sure that we continue to reduce the number of young people starting to smoke but it's also critical that we reduce the number of people smoking," said Brown.

She knows firsthand the harms.

"My father started smoking early, he had quadruple bypass at 50, he died of a heart attack 20 years later, but it was an ongoing battle for him and he really really struggled to quit smoking," the governor said.

Whether it's at the state level, the county level, or the high school level, “the more people we can prevent starting to smoke, the better off, the healthier and more vibrant our communities will be," she said.

She says tobacco prevention should be a priority and notes tobacco is the number one preventable cause of death in Oregon.

It contributes to more than 7,000 deaths statewide each year.

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