Tobacco companies use flavored products to attract and keep customers addicted to their products. More than 80 percent of youth who have ever used tobacco, report they started with a flavored product. Youth use flavored tobacco products, including menthol cigarettes, at higher rates than adult smokers. Flavors also deepen glaring health disparities by targeting communities of color. Consider, 85 percent of African American smokers report they smoke menthol, compared to 29 percent of White smokers.
In Multnomah County, these products are widely available; a 2019 survey of licensed retailers in Multnomah County found that 100 percent of those stores sell flavored tobacco products. And despite strict enforcement through the County’s Tobacco Retail Licensing, data shows underage sales and use continues, particularly of flavored tobacco products.
Since 2014, the Board of Health has enacted policies related to tobacco and vaping products and has considered recommendations related to flavors from community groups, youth and the Multnomah County Health Department's Public Health Division.
The 2019 outbreak of vaping-related illnesses and deaths, the ongoing conversations about tobacco as a leading cause of death, and national momentum to address youth vaping have reinforced the Board of Health’s interest in addressing the health impacts of flavored tobacco products.
Those who wish to comment on any proposed flavor restriction may submit written comments online.