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Oregonians could pay $2 more for pack of smokes


A pack of cigarettes could cost smokers $2 more if the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network gets its way.

The group is urging lawmakers to pass this major tax increase during Oregon’s 2019 legislative session.

Currently Oregonians only pay $1.33 cents per pack of cigarettes. A $2 bump would make it $3.33 for every pack purchased.

That’s still well below many states. New Yorkers pay $4.35 in taxes for a pack.

Experts say a high tobacco tax has the power to stop people from smoking altogether and discourage kids from picking up the habit.

Family practice physician Dr. Anita Henderson said she’s seen this happen firsthand.

“One of my patients the other day, I was going to ask if she was willing to quit smoking again, because she’d done it before, and she raised this tax as an issue and said, ‘You know, now that cigarettes are going to be $10 a pack, I am going to quit.’ That’s an example of how it can be effective,” Henderson said Wednesday.

Research suggests an extra $2 tax in Oregon on a pack of cigarettes would result in 31,000 people quitting smoking and about 19,000 kids under 18 never picking up the habit.

That said, Lisa Jones, the owner of Smoke This, said the new tax would not only hurt business but would hurt customers already struggling financially.

“The people that suffer the most are the consumers,” Jones said. “The customers that have to cough up the extra money, because it’s not easy to just quit smoking overnight. They’re going to have to get their nicotine, and unfortunately, it’s going to affect them in a bad way.”

It’s been 17 years since Oregon passed a big tobacco tax hike, and if passed this time, the proposed increase would also impact electronic cigarettes and other tobacco products.

Money from the tax increase would go toward funding the state’s Medicaid program .

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