Advocates for bill raising tobacco age to 21 rally at capitol - KPTV - FOX 12

Advocates for bill raising tobacco age to 21 rally at capitol

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Oregon lawmakers will debate a bill this year that would ban adults under the age of 21 from buying tobacco products, and supporters of the bill took to the capitol Monday.

More than 80 cancer patients, survivors and other advocates were in Salem to show support for the bill and persuade lawmakers to do the same.

Monday was the annual American Cancer Society Day at the Capitol, and advocates for Senate Bill 754 say the proposal to raise the age to purchase tobacco products to 21 years old is their top priority.

If the bill passes, it would also become illegal for those under 21 to possess or consume products like cigarettes, e-cigarettes and chewing tobacco.

Advocates are also supporting legislation that would raise cigarette taxes $2 per pack, among other bills.

The American Cancer Society says tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death and amounts to nearly 28 percent of all cancer deaths in Oregon.

For Seaside resident Lois Fitzpatrick, cigarettes are a very personal enemy. She’s never smoked herself, but told FOX 12 her mother and brother started smoking as teens and her father started smoking when he was just 11.

“When I was 17, my father was diagnosed with lung cancer, at 17. Eight months later my father died of lung cancer,” she explained. “It was a horrifying death and one that I will remember for my life, with he went through.”

Advocates say that by passing the bill fewer kids will develop the sometimes life-long habit known to kill, claiming that percent of adult smokers start smoking before the age of 21.

Even if the bill advances, advocates said they expect tobacco lobbyists to come out in full-force against it.

If Oregon lawmakers were to pass the bill, it will become the third state in the country to raise the age requirement on tobacco to 21, joining California and Hawaii.

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