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May-29-2009 14:10printcomments

Oregon Legislature Chews On Spit Tobacco Tax (AUDIO)

Oregon has, in effect, been giving a tax break to companies marketing their products to children, and it's time to stop, claims Queral.

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(PORTLAND, Ore.) - Snuff, chew and dissolvable tobacco could soon cost more in Oregon. The legislature is considering raising the tobacco tax for those products, which haven't seen increases in years.

Backers say raising the tax will help keep children away from tobacco, while opponents say any tax increase is a bad idea in the current economy.

Reportedly, sales of smokeless tobacco products have been on the rise as indoor clean air laws have passed.

The Senate will soon consider House Bill 2672, which would raise the rate so it's closer to the tax on cigarettes, and future increases would be aligned to the general rate of inflation.

Alejandro Queral, government affairs director for the American Heart Association, says his organization has found many of the smokeless products are packaged and flavored in ways that resemble candy.

They're affordable to children, he says, because they're priced far-lower than cigarettes, which are taxed at a higher rate.

"Kids are increasingly using these products and are becoming addicted. Many of the kids that take up smokeless tobacco products go on to become smokers later in life."

Oregon has, in effect, been giving a tax break to companies marketing their products to children, and it's time to stop, claims Queral.

"Tobacco companies have been targeting their products to kids for a long time. We have lots of evidence that shows how they tackle this market and have tried to make kids addicted to the product."

The U.S. Surgeon General has stated smokeless tobacco products are linked to oral cancer, gum disease and nicotine addiction - and they increase the risk of heart attacks.

Special thanks to Oregon News Service
Producer: Deb Courson
Reporter: Deborah Smith


Audio

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