Multnomah County begins issuing tobacco licenses Friday, July 1 to reduce illegal sales to teens

June 30, 2016

Stores like this one will be required to have a license to sell tobacco and gaping products beginning July 1

In a broad effort to reduce the number of teens illegally buying tobacco, nicotine or vaping products, on Friday, Multnomah County will begin issuing licenses to all businesses selling those products.

Starting July 1, any business that sells tobacco, nicotine or vaping products is required to get a license. The annual fee is $580.  This applies to any business including convenience stores, bars, hotels and restaurants. A license is required for each address where products are available.

Multnomah County Health Department staff has also begun outreach to businesses, providing signs, education and support.

“In the same way we work with restaurant and food cart owners to operate safely and legally, we will be working with retailers to provide the information and help they need,’’ said Joanne Fuller, Health Department Director.

One in three Multnomah County businesses sold tobacco to kids

Although selling cigarettes to minors has been illegal for decades, Oregon is one of the few states in the country that has no tobacco retail licensing and no way to hold businesses accountable.

The Board of County Commissioners unanimously approved a license in November 2015 after state and federal surveys showed Multnomah County had some of the highest rates of illegal sales to children under 18 in the nation. During a federal compliance check in 2014, one in three Multnomah County retailers illegally sold tobacco to children under 18.

Under the new ordinance, retailers are subject to at least one unannounced site visit each year. If an inspector finds a retailer is violating the rules, the owner could face fines or suspension.

“Tobacco remains the number one cause of preventable death in our county,’’ Fuller said. “Since most users started using before they were age 18, we see this as an important step in saving lives.’’

Licenses are available here in English, Spanish, Vietnamese, Chinese, Russian and Korean. You can also contact Environmental Health at 847 NE 19th Ave, Suite 350, Portland OR 97232, email or call 503-988-4163.