(Update: adding video, statements from Measure 108 opponent)
BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- The American Cancer Society and the e-cigarette and tobacco industries continue to battle, this time over Oregon Ballot Measure 108, a tax hike on tobacco products and a new tax on e-cigarette products.
Some businesses in Central Oregon that sell tobacco and e-cigarette products say the tax hike can affect what their clients can afford, making it a more expensive habit for many, and ultimately hurting their sales.
NewsChannel 21 spoke Wednesday with representatives of Smoke This, High Mountain Mist and Valley Vapors, three businesses that say their customers have expressed concern about the possible tax hikes.
Measure 108 would raise the state’s cigarette tax by $2 per pack and tax e-cigarettes for the first time in Oregon.
Jamie Dunphy, Oregon government relations director with the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, said, "One in four teenagers reports being able to get regular access to e-cigarettes. Evidence shows that e-cigarette use directly leads to tobacco use, and it directly leads to cancers, and it directly leads to a lot of health disparities that cause lifelong problems."
Dunphy said tobacco-related illnesses are still the leading cause of preventable deaths in Oregon.
Increasing the tax of tobacco and e-cigarette products make them less accessible -- something Dunphy and other supporters of the measure consider a good thing.
"I will be candid: We want their sales to be low," he said.
Jason Weber, CEO of Vape Crusader, is working with local businesses in the No On 108 campaign. He said the new tax would cause some businesses to take a hit.
"A 65 percent tax on every product in our vaping stores is detrimental to our businesses," Weber said. "I would say somewhere around 90 or 95 percent of us would have to shut down."
Currently, Oregon's cigarette tax is $1.33 cents per stamp for a pack of 20 cigarettes.
Weber explained that there are parameters in place to keep people safe and healthy.
"All of our stores are 21 and older, so youth can't come in our stores as is," Weber said. "Again, these products have been proven 95 percent safer than smoking.
"And then for the argument (that) this leads to tobacco use -- well if that was the case, we'd see tobacco use skyrocket right now," he said. "We don't -- we see that the CDC says it's a 34 percent drop in vaping in the last year."
The American Cancer Society said the tax dollars will go toward intervention, public services, rehabilitation and tobacco education programs.