Benton may ban flavored tobacco

CORVALLIS — Benton County took the first steps on Tuesday toward limiting or banning flavored tobacco products, including menthol cigarettes, sweetened cigars and flavored vaping cartridges.

At a morning work session, the Board of Commissioners voted unanimously to back a Health Department proposal to work with municipal governments to restrict the sale of flavored tobacco products in the county and take a number of other steps aimed at curbing tobacco use by young people.

The proposal is still in the developmental stage and would require the cooperation of other local jurisdictions to take effect within the cities of Corvallis, Philomath, Monroe and Adair Village or the North Albany community.

A state law that took effect last year prohibits the sale of tobacco or vaping products to anyone younger than 21. But data collected by the county’s Tobacco Prevention and Education Program suggests teen smoking may be on the rise again after years of decline, largely because of the ready availability of vaping devices.

According to program leader John Ruyak, a health policy specialist with the Benton County Health Department, nearly 12% of 11th graders in local schools are vaping on a regular basis.

He said the ready availability of flavored tobacco products — from menthol cigarettes to Swisher Sweet-type little cigars to vaping cartridges formulated to taste like vanilla Wafers or apple juice — is a leading factor in youth tobacco use.


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