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Tobacco age now 21 in Lane County

The tobacco age in Lane County is now 21. Lane County is the first county in Oregon to pass such an ordinance. Photo by Ellen Meny.

EUGENE, Ore. - Starting on April 13, you must be 21 or older to buy tobacco products in Lane County.

The change comes after the Board of County Commissioners and the Board of Health voted on this ordinance in mid-March. Before the ordinance was passed, Lane County residents had to be 18 or older to buy tobacco products.

Lane County is the first county in Oregon to pass such an ordinance.

People under 21 can no longer buy tobacco or related products, such as rolling papers, e-cigarettes, filters and pipes - even if they don't contain nicotine.

Lane County Public Health Manager Jocelyn Warren says the main goal of the ordinance is to discourage smoking in young people.

"So, we know too that people who are younger and take up smoking will have a more difficult time quitting, because they smoke for a longer period of time as well," Warren says.

Warren says this type of action is proven to lower tobacco use, even if they can't convince everyone to avoid tobacco.

"I don't think that we think it's feasible to cut off the supply entirely for anyone who wants to get cigarettes or get tobacco products. I think what this does do is create that environment that supports tobacco free youth, tobacco free spaces," Warren says.

Sharyl Thornhill, District Manager of Cigarettes for Less, says this ordinance will most likely not negatively affect business.

Thornhill says most of her high-paying customers of adults. However, it will mean carding customers diligently.

"So we have to reevaluate who we're carding, making sure we're carding everyone even though we know them. We've carded them before, but now we have to be a little more diligent," Thornhill says.

KVAL caught up with two men trying to enter Cigarettes for Less on April 13 - before their were turned away.

"We're under the age of 21, I didn't know it went into effect today," Eugene resident Luke Martin told us.

"Maybe this will help get those younger kids to not use it," Eugene resident Jordan Hadley added. "I wish I never started using it."

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