Bill aims to ban free samples of tobacco

Free samples of non-cigarette tobacco products could not be distributed under a bill that has passed the Oregon House.

House Bill 2358, which moved to the Senate on a 49-11 vote, was sponsored by Reps. Carolyn Tomei, D-Milwaukie, and Mike Schaufler, D-Happy Valley.

The bill does not cover cigarettes, which are regulated by the federal government.

Smokeless tobacco that is flavored and presented in colorful packaging is often marketed to young women. In rural Oregon, smokeless tobacco is heavily marketed to young men. Because these marketing techniques are not regulated, it is easy for Oregon kids to obtain these samples.

In 2005, major tobacco companies spent more than $13 billion to promote tobacco products; many marketing efforts directly reach children.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that at least 26 percent of high school students use some form of non-cigarette tobacco.

The House passed a different bill last week to raise state taxes on smokeless tobacco.

— Peter Wong

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