Commissioners seek comment on e-cigarettes

January 22, 2015

Dr. Jennifer Vines demonstrates e cigarettes
Dr. Jennifer Vines demonstrates how e-cigarettes work at Nov. 13, 2014 board briefing on access to tobacco and e-cigarettes.

The Multnomah County Board of Commissioners is considering possible action around e-cigarettes. You are invited to a public hearing on the issue on Tuesday, Jan. 27, from 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.

The hearing will be the fourth county meeting on the burgeoning e-cigarette market in Multnomah County. During a series of briefings last fall, commissioners learned that the sale and use of e-cigarettes is unregulated and unmonitored. They’ve also learned that Multnomah County also has one of the highest rates of illegal tobacco sales to minors in the nation.

Because e-cigarette and tobacco retailers are not licensed or registered, health staff have no way to identify them to provide education and technical assistance to them, or enforce rules.

Why is the board holding this hearing?

The Board is very concerned about the health impacts of youth access to tobacco,  nicotine and delivery devices targeting the youth market. The Health Department and Oregon Health Equity Alliance recommended the following steps. On Tuesday, the Board of Commissioners, acting as the Board of Health, will take feedback on these possible actions:

  • Prohibiting e-cigarette sales to, and use by, minors.
  • Including use of e-cigarettes in the Multnomah County Smoke-free Workplace law. Support any state effort to update the Oregon Clean Air Act by including e-cigarettes.
  • Licensing and education programs for retailers who sell tobacco and e-cigarette products.

How can I learn more?

Health staff are also scheduled to present information to the city councils of Troutdale (Jan. 27);  Wood Village (Feb. 10), and Portland (Feb. 11). You can also read the minutes or watch the earlier briefings on the Multnomah County website here. This includes the Nov. 13, 2014 Health Department presentation on tobacco, nicotine and e-cigarette use by minors; the Nov. 25, 2014 Health Department and Oregon Health Authority briefing on best practices nationwide and the Dec. 18, 2014 present by the Oregon Health Equity Alliance and Upstream Public Health on the impact of these products on communities of color.

 The Health Department staff also presented information at a regional briefing for East County officials on Nov. 12, 2014 and to the Fairview City Council on Jan. 21, 2015.

How can I comment?

Join the Multnomah County Board of Health on Tuesday, Jan. 27 from 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Multnomah Building, 501 S.E. Hawthorne Blvd., Portland, OR. 97214-3587. Additional testimony will be taken during the Board of County Commissioner’s meeting on Feb. 5 (time TBD). Beginning Thursday, Jan. 22, you can also submit your comments online here.