County health officials will hold a public discussion about the danger of tobacco and new state regulations as they prepare to push for more local guidelines.

A press release from Lincoln County Public Health invites the public to an online discussion scheduled for 4 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 18, about local and statewide efforts to help protect Lincoln County youths and residents from the harmful effects of tobacco use. During the 2021 legislative session, a statewide Oregon Tobacco Retail Licensee requirement was passed, signed into law and will go into effect Jan. 1, 2022.

“In 2021, tobacco-related illnesses are still the number one cause of preventable death in Oregon, more than the next six combined” Jamie Dunphy, of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, said. “If we’re going to reduce the deadly impact of tobacco on our community, we need to work on local solutions that will save the lives of our neighbors and prevent a new generation of people who smoke from ever starting.”

A link to the online event on the Lincoln County Public Health Facebook page or on the county website at https://www.co.lincoln.or.us/hhs/page/tobacco-prevention-education-program.

Lincoln County works to prevent tobacco use, protect people from secondhand smoke, help people quit using tobacco, and hold the tobacco industry accountable. Local efforts in 2021 are focused on establishing a Tobacco Prevention Coalition, developing policy to reduce tobacco retail density, and place restrictions on having tobacco retailers near public schools, an effective strategy to prevent youth access to tobacco and nicotine.

Public health recently briefed the Lincoln County Board of Commissioners on the recent statewide legislation and proposed local officials take a further step with ordinances regulating the density of tobacco retailers. Such legislation would require buy-in from municipalities to be effective, as most tobacco sellers are located within city limits (two-thirds are in Newport and Lincoln City).

The proposed density ordinance would create a 1,000-foot “buffer zone” around schools and other tobacco retailers, within which new licenses would not be issued (existing license holders would be grandfathered). The health department’s proposed timeline for drafting a model ordinance and conducting outreach could see implementation by June 2022, if city councils and the county commission are on board.

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