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Anti-tobacco bills going up in smoke

Publication Date: 7/16/2005
  • Author:BRAD CAIN, AP
  • Publication:The Oregonian
Bills pushed by anti-smoking advocates to ban smoking in bars and taverns, reinstate a 10-cent-a-pack cigarette tax and allow only "fire-safe" cigarettes to be sold in the state have been all but snuffed out by Oregon lawmakers this year.

The measures drew opposition from tobacco and restaurant industry interests who contribute heavily to legislative campaigns as well as from lawmakers who are loathe to approve additional taxes or impose more regulation on business.

With the 2005 session moving into its final weeks, the Tobacco-Free Coalition of Oregon says it appears the Legislature isn't going to deal with "the state's No. 1 public health issue" -- tobacco use that causes more than 7,000 premature deaths in Oregon each year and exposes thousands of others to second-hand smoke.

John Valley of the American Heart Association, one of the leading groups involved with the coalition, says anti-smoking and health care advocates might try to take one or more of the issues directly to Oregon voters next year.