BEND, OR -- State and local health officials are working to make tobacco retailers aware of Oregon’s new “Tobacco 21” law and a January first compliance deadline.
Deschutes County Tobacco Prevention Coordinator Penny Pritchard says stores should have already stopped selling tobacco products to customers under 21. "The law actually really did go into effect August ninth; that’s when Governor Brown signed the law into effect and there was an emergency clause that put that into place. January first is really the enforcement, so that’s when the Oregon Health Authority is going to be going out and actually citing retailers if they’re not complying with the law." She says that enforcement effort is prompting local officials to get the word out now, "To really help educate retailers and the public, especially those who are 18, 19 or 20." She tells KBND News, "The Oregon Health Authority has also sent out letters to retailers and other entities that serve young adults, such as the colleges, to make sure that people are aware of the new law and when enforcement is going to be taking place."
Aside from the new age restrictions, stores must also move tobacco products and inhalant delivery systems to a location where customers can’t access them without employee assistance, and post new signs. Pritchard says, "We’re really just trying to prepare retailers, to make sure they’ve got all the information they need. They need to post a sign that says they will not sell to minors under 21. And so that sign needs to be posted because that could also be a violation of the law." Pritchard says after January first, violators face fines of up to a thousand dollars.