Should Oregon increase the tobacco tax by $2 per pack of cigarettes?

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    SALEM, Ore. - Legislation that would increase the tax on cigarettes and subject electronic cigarettes to the state's tobacco tax is working its way through the Oregon legislature.

    House Bill 2270 would impose a new $2 per pack tax on a pack of 20 cigarettes, and an equivalent increase on other forms of tobacco, including e-cigarettes.

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    As presently written, the bill would take effect 91 days over the legislature adjourns for the year.

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    The money raised by the tax would go to support Oregon Health Authority programs.

    But the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network suggests the tax would have an impact other than raising revenue.

    It might make people quit.

    "Oregon has not raised its tobacco tax significantly since 2002. Our current cigarette tax is $1.33 per pack, which ranks 32nd in the nation and isn't high enough to produce a meaningful public health benefit and reduce tobacco use," said Christopher Friend, Oregon government relations director for American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network. "For a state that prides itself on being so healthy, we should not be toward the bottom of the pack."

    The advocacy group suggests increasing the tax would help adults quit - and prevent kids from picking up the habit.

    The Cancer Society projects such an increase would result in:

    • 31,300 adults who currently smoke would quit;
    • 19,200 kids under age 18 would not become new daily smokers;
    • Youth smoking rates would decrease nearly 21 percent;
    • 13,700 lives would be saved from a premature smoking-related death.

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