Oregon Must Do More to Stand Up to Big Tobacco

Oregon Legislature’s failure to introduce legislation ending the sale of flavored tobacco products in 2024 means local officials must act urgently to protect local communities from tobacco and nicotine products.

November 13, 2023

SALEM, Oregon – November 13, 2023 – Elected officials across the state must do more to support residents of Oregon who want to quit using tobacco products, say cancer patients, survivors, and advocates who are marking the American Cancer Society’s 48th annual Great American Smokeout® on November 16. The Great American Smokeout is a day for people who use tobacco to create a plan to quit. 
Jamie Dunphy, Oregon Government Relations Director for the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network said: “The Oregon Legislature has once again failed to take the tobacco epidemic seriously and will not even consider the policy of ending the sale of menthol and all other flavored tobacco products in 2024. On this Great American Smokeout, we urge local lawmakers across Oregon to support people who want to quit using all tobacco products, and to stop the next generation from ever starting by moving quickly to end the sale of flavored tobacco at the county level. Passing this policy will help residents across our state by reducing tobacco use and addiction, leading to fewer deaths and suffering from tobacco-related diseases like cancer.”   

In Oregon, tobacco use is still the leading preventable cause of disease and death, and smoking is now linked to at least 12 types of cancers, including lung, liver and colorectal cancers. Each year, more than 8,000 die from a smoking-related disease in Oregon alone. Although these hazards are well established, data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show 14.5% of adults in Oregon smoke. These products are often highly addictive, and it can be difficult for people to quit using tobacco once they have started. 

“The Great American Smokeout is not just an opportunity for people who use tobacco to set a plan to quit. It’s also a clear wake up call for lawmakers to say it’s time for Oregon to stand up to Big Tobacco,” Dunphy said. “For too long, Oregon has allowed the tobacco industry to addict people to deadly, cancer-causing products. It’s time to say, ‘enough is enough.’ Our residents deserve better.”
Research shows that strong tobacco control policies, like ending the sale of menthol and all other flavored tobacco products, can help people quit smoking. 

“Big Tobacco manufactures and markets menthol cigarettes and other flavored tobacco products for a reason – to make these products easier to use and more difficult to quit. We must end the sale of menthol cigarettes and all other flavored tobacco products to help people quit and to protect kids from a lifetime of addiction,” Dunphy said. 

Tobacco use is one of the primary drivers of cancer-related health disparities. Tobacco companies have specifically targeted communities of color, limited income communities, veterans, people with disabilities, LGBTQ+ people and youth has caused disproportionate tobacco use among these populations. Eighty-five percent of Black adults who smoke use menthol cigarettes. Menthol has been proven to make it easier to start smoking and harder to quit. Black Americans still have the highest death rate and shortest survival of any racial group in the U.S. for most cancers, and Black men have the highest cancer incidence rate. Achieving health equity relies heavily on eliminating tobacco use. 

Free resources on quitting tobacco can be found at the Oregon Quit Line or through the American Cancer Society’s cessation program, Empowered to Quit

The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) advocates for evidence-based public policies to reduce the cancer burden for everyone. We engage our volunteers across the country to make their voices heard by policymakers at every level of government. We believe everyone should have a fair and just opportunity to prevent, detect, treat, and survive cancer. Since 2001, as the American Cancer Society’s nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy affiliate, ACS CAN has successfully advocated for billions of dollars in cancer research funding, expanded access to quality affordable health care, and advanced proven tobacco control measures. We stand with our volunteers, working to make cancer a top priority for policymakers in cities, states and our nation’s capital. Join the fight by visiting 

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