Board acts: County will require licenses to sell tobacco, vaping products

November 12, 2015

Assistant County Attorney Bernadette Nunley smiles after Board approves licensing tobacco retailers..

The Board of County Commissioners on Thursday approved licensing businesses that sell tobacco and vaping products.

The county plans to begin issuing the annual licenses on July 1, 2016 after a public education campaign. Enforcement is expected to begin in January 2017.

The board moved to license retailers after Multnomah County posted some of the highest rates of illegal sales to minors according to state and federal regulators. Studies have shown licensing sellers helps drive down the illegal sales.

"This is a big day,'' said Chair Deborah Kafoury. She and other commissioners said they hoped the Legislature would take up the matter for a statewide system. "We have set the stage,'' she said.

The board acted after holding six public meetings on the subject, including briefings, public hearings, town halls and visits to city councils in East County. Fifty-five people submitted comments online, 36 of which supported licensing and 17 of which opposed. Two people were neutral. Eleven of those commenting asked the board to raise the minimum sales age to 21.

In doing so, the board approved a rule-making committee which in early 2016, will work develop the annual fee, fines, penalty process and other rules. Committee members will include members of the public, business owners, community advocates and Health Department staff.

Multnomah County will be posting the nomination process to serve on the rule-making committee shortly. You can read the ordinance here Ordinance for Amending Chapter 21-Health_relating to licensing of Tobacco Retailers in Multnomah County (35.97 KB) and a FAQ here.