Oregon - House passes bill to increase the tax on smokeless tobacco..

April 24, 2009 - Oregon's tax on smokeless-tobacco products would go up under a bill that cleared the Oregon House on Wednesday, April 22, 2009. House Bill 2672, which moved to the Senate on a 40-18 vote, sets a minimum tax of $2.14 on a 1.2-ounce can. Each additional ounce would be taxed $1.78. The tax would raise $5.5 million in 2009-11.

Rep. Sara Gelser, D-Corvallis, said she was surprised to find that while cigarettes are taxed at $1.18 per pack, one brand of moist snuff was taxed at 64 cents while another brand of smokeless tobacco was taxed at $1.55. "This state is giving a tax advantage to the most accessible and affordable tobacco product to children," she said.

Rep. Gene Whisnant, R-Sunriver, said he opposed the bill because it increases taxes and because it sides with one tobacco company against another offering a cheaper product.

Rep. Brian Clem, D-Salem, said neither of those arguments is valid. Noting that his grandfather and his father-in-law both died of lung cancer, he said, "we should not subsidize a behavior that is destructive."

Reference: Tobacco-tax increase passes Oregon House, Peter Wong, StatesmanJournal.com, 4./23/2009.