Voters approved a proposal to increase Oregon’s cigarette tax by $2 per pack and to create a tax on e-cigarettes Tuesday night, according to unofficial returns.
Measure 108 will increase the state’s cigarette tax from $1.33 to $3.33, create an entirely new 65% tax on e-cigarettes and increase taxes on premium cigars.
The state estimates the tax would generate about $160 million per year.
“Tonight’s victory sends a very strong message that once again Oregonians show overwhelmingly the value of health and health care access for all of our neighbors," said Elisabeth Shepard, campaign manager for the Yes on 108 campaign. "And will show up in force to protect them while also reducing one of the biggest threats to our kids health.”
Ninety percent of the tax revenues from the measure would go to the Oregon Health Authority to pay for the treatment of sick people, especially those suffering from mental illnesses. The remaining 10% would go to tribal health providers and other culturally specific health programs for tobacco cessation efforts.
Oregon Gov. Kate Brown introduced the tax idea during the last legislative session. It was referred to the ballot along a largely party line vote. Democrats voted in favor, Republicans against.
The group Taxpayers Association of Oregon urged voters to reject it saying a tax hike would hurt low-income Oregonians because they’re more likely to smoke. The group also says it would disproportionately hurt the small local shops that sell tobacco products.
Oregon has not increased tobacco taxes in 18 years. It has one of the lowest rates in the country.