No time like the present

81 points

OREGON — Voters statewide approved an increase on state taxes on cigarettes and additional tobacco products during November’s General Election by about a 2-1 margin.

Passage of Ballot Measure 108 means that come Friday, the state’s cigarette tax (currently $1.33 per pack) increases by $2 per pack, places a maximum state tax on cigars at $1 each and allows cigarillos to be taxed as cigarettes. It also establishes a tax on nicotine vaping products of 65 percent of the wholesale price.

Revenue received anywhere in the state from the tobacco tax increase will be used by the Oregon Health Authority to fund health care coverage for low-income families, including mental health services and public health programs, including programs addressing tobacco and nicotine-related disease.

With the price of tobacco products going up across the board and the increased risk of respiratory illness that places smokers at high risk for defeating potentially fatal symptoms of COVID-19, Lincoln County Community Health and the OHA’s Smokefree Oregon campaign are ramping up efforts to help area tobacco users quit for the new year.

“Now is the perfect time for people to make their quit plan,” Sara Herd, Lincoln County Community Health Tobacco Prevention and Education Program coordinator, said in a news release issued Dec. 21. “We know that six out of 10 people in Oregon who smoke, vape or use other tobacco products want to quit. Smokefree Oregon and Lincoln County offer free counseling and medication to help, along with tools for people to quit on their own, for parents to help their children quit, and for health care providers to help their patients quit.”

For the Spanish-speaking and Latinx community, the Vive sin Fumar program, for those between the ages of 24 to 54 years, includes expanded Spanish-language tobacco quitting resources. The program emphasizes connection, community experiences, support and a sense of belonging. 

For complete details about the Vive sin Fumar program, go to

Quitting for Real, the English-language program, likens quitting tobacco to an individual journey, in which each person’s needs differ, and connects those hoping to quit with resources for quitting tobacco. 

“In addition to dealing with the COVID pandemic and having all the other health risks involved with tobacco use, quitting is extremely helpful in preventing severe complications that could come with COVID,” Susan Trachsel, Lincoln County Public Health public information officer, told the News-Times on Tuesday. “Quitting smoking can add years to one’s life and reduce your likelihood of contracting other illnesses.”

The Quitting for Real program will run on digital media services statewide, including the streaming radio service Pandora. Resources to assist in quitting tobacco use for tobacco users and parents or loved ones of those who smoke or vape from healthcare providers are available at

Free help with quitting tobacco use is available from the Oregon Tobacco Quit Line 24 hours a day at the following:

• For Spanish language assistance, dial 1-855-DÉJELO-YA (1-855-335-35692) or visit;

• For English, call 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669), text “READY” to 200-400, or visit;

• To reach the Native Quit Line for Alaska Indians and Native Americans, call 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669), then press 7;

• For help in other languages, call 877-864-7552 TTY 711;

• TTY: 1-877-777-6534.

Additionally, beginning in January, certified pharmacies throughout the state will provide in-store patient health reviews and prescribe tobacco cessation products. 

Trachsel said the beginning of a new year is often when people to try to quit tobacco as a New Year’s resolution, but that quitting can be extremely difficult. 

“Addiction is strong and powerful and difficult to overcome,” she said. “It seems like this is the time of year when people resolve to try to take action to improve their health. And quitting now can only benefit that user down the road.”

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