By Associated Press • 

Already 18? Oregon county says don't worry about tobacco law

EUGENE — Commissioners in an Oregon county say a proposed ordinance to increase the legal age for using and buying tobacco products from 18 to 21 should include a clause to exempt users who have already turned 18.

“Eighteen-year-olds who are already addicted shouldn't have to quit cold turkey,” Lane County Commissioner Jay Bozievich said at Tuesday's public hearing on the issue. “Let's be fair to those who are already addicted at a legal age, rather than making their addiction illegal.”

Most of his fellow commissioners agreed, voting 4-1 to advance the ordinance with the grandfather clause, The Register-Guard reported. Final approval could come March 14, with the new age limit taking effect 30 days later.

Eric Brodell, western regional director for the Preventing Tobacco Addiction Foundation, said the grandfather clause would render the ordinance useless for its first three years.

Jack Jones of Eugene said commissioners should not pass the ordinance targeting people ages 18-20.

“We'll send them to war, let them get married, buy a house, but we do not trust them with tobacco,” he said.

The effort to raise the age for legal tobacco users is part of a campaign called Tobacco 21 to pass local and state laws throughout the country because of alleged inaction at the federal level.

Commissioner Sid Leiken voted against the ordinance, saying the legal age for using and buying tobacco should be uniform across Oregon.

“I just strongly believe we're creating an island here,” Leiken said. “Someone could go from Junction City to Harrisburg if they really wanted to buy cigarettes.”

Those cities are less than five miles apart but are in different counties.

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Information from: The Register-Guard, http://www.registerguard.com

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