The Movement

“ Our work to protect our children and improve the public’s health is not complete. Today, tobacco is the leading preventable cause of death not just in America, but also in the world.”

President Barack Obama
June 22, 2009

Tobacco use is more than a health care issue. It is an issue of health equity and social justice.

To address this problem in Oregon the Tobacco-Free Coalition of Oregon, Inc. (TOFCO) will organize a grassroots network of thousands of individuals in Oregon to provide information about harm of tobacco and advocate for tobacco control policies that reduce tobacco use in Oregon.

Join the Movement. Sign up for TOFCO’s news alerts, contact your legislators, follow us on Facebook and Twitter, and donate all from the Take Action page.

Oregon's Success

The tobacco control movement in Oregon has achieved considerable success with significant declines in its tobacco use over the past ten years. However, two new Center for Disease Control (CDC) reports, Tobacco Control State Highlights 2010 and the 2009 National Youth Tobacco Survey (NYTS) has provided a timely reminder that it is premature to declare victory in the fight against tobacco. “Although the nation has not experienced substantial reductions in the national smoking rate over the past five years, this report shows that states know how to end the smoking epidemic,” said CDC Director Thomas R. Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. “Smoke-free laws, hard-hitting ads, and higher cigarette prices are among our strongest weapons in this fight against tobacco use. We must redouble efforts to bring down smoking rates, prevent suffering and premature death, and cut health care costs by reducing smoking.”

The Work in not Finished

Tobacco use continues to be the leading cause of preventable death in Oregon and is associated with a number of diseases including multiple cancers, diseases of respiratory and cardiovascular systems, and strokes. Tobacco use accounts for over 6,900 Oregonian lives and costs the state more than $2 billion a year and still 16 percent of high school students continue to smoke. This is coupled with the fact that tobacco use disproportionally harms populations that are vulnerable and disenfranchised such as Native Americans, African Americans, the disabled, and the young.

Furthermore, the tobacco industry continues to introduce new delivery methods of nicotine such as smokeless tobacco products, some of which have been test marketed in Portland, and hookah lounges.

With the state facing severe budgetary constraints, the future looks even bleaker. Oregon has cut funding for tobacco control programs from $9.1 million annually in FY 2009 to $7.7 million annually in FY 2010. This pullback is occurring just as declines in the state’s adult smoking rate have stalled. We believe those initiatives to win the battle against tobacco are already out there. Other states have seen reductions in smoking rates, fewer pre-mature deaths and lower health care costs by hard-hitting education and media campaigns, a stable comprehensive tobacco control program, and higher cigarette prices.

Opportunity

But, there is an opportunity to advance the tobacco control movement further than ever before in Oregon. Recently there has been a convergence of focus on tobacco control.

  • Health care reform: Tobacco prevention and cessation is integral part to the national and Oregon health care reform.
  • New FDA Regulation: FDA recently strengthened tobacco regulations with its new rule restricting tobacco industry marketing and sales to children.
  • Tobacco Control Integration Project: The state has received a two-year American Recovery and Reinvestment Act grant to weave tobacco prevention and education programs throughout Oregon’s Department of Human Services and the Oregon Health Authority.
  • The Revitalization of the Tobacco-Free Coalition of Oregon, Inc.: The Tobacco-Free Coalition of Oregon, Inc (TOFCO) a single focus (tobacco control) non-governmental entity is back stronger than ever to act as the coordinator and facilitator of the tobacco movement in Oregon.

The Facts

Oregon has achieved some success in its tobacco control efforts:

  • Smoking rates: Oregon ranks 11th lowest, with 16.3 percent of adults smoking.
  • Smoke-free air: Oregon receives high marks for its strong smoke-free workplace law; this protects nearly 100 percent of workers.
  • Helping smokers quit: Oregon smokers call the quit line at a higher-than-average rate with 6.4 percent of smokers seeking assistance. The state also receives kudos for comprehensive quit support provided through Medicaid.

But over the years Oregon has been unable to maintain that leadership role. Oregon ranks low in:

  • Tobacco sales restrictions: Oregon does not require establishments selling tobacco to be licensed, as is the practice in 37 other states.
  • Price of tobacco: Oregon’s tobacco tax of $1.18 per pack has not increased since 2002 and ranks 26th among the states. Oregon does not have a minimum price law. Raising the price of tobacco is one of the best ways to help smokers quit and keep youth from starting.
  • Funding for prevention: Oregon’s funding for tobacco control was just 11.1 percent of levels recommended by the CDC in 2007, making it 35th among the states.

And as Oregon loses ground, tobacco companies are developing new smokeless tobacco products to win customers—even selecting Portland as a test market.

With the state facing severe budgetary constraints, the future looks even bleaker. Oregon has cut funding for tobacco control programs from $9.1 million annually in FY 2009 to $7.7 million annually in FY 2010. This pullback is occurring just as declines in the state’s adult smoking rate have stalled. We believe those initiatives to win the battle against tobacco are already out there. Other states have seen reductions in smoking rates, fewer pre-mature deaths and lower health care costs by hard-hitting education and media campaigns, a stable comprehensive tobacco control program, and higher cigarette prices.

To address this problem in Oregon the Tobacco-Free Coalition of Oregon, Inc. (TOFCO) will organize a grassroots organizations and individuals in Oregon to advocate for tobacco control policies that reduce tobacco use in Oregon.

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What Were They
SMOKING?

“Very few consumers are aware of the effects of nicotine, i.e., its addictive nature and that nicotine is a poison.”

H.D. Steele, Brown and Williamson

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