To the Editor:

As we continue battling COVID-19, it’s critical we strengthen public health and build strong policies that include comprehensive tobacco control measures. Tobacco use remains the leading cause of preventable death and in Oregon, lung cancer is the number one cause of death.

As an American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network volunteer, I’m committed to saving lives from cancer.

Amid the pandemic, we’re still facing an epidemic of youth e-cigarette use and people are suffering from smoking-related illnesses. Additionally, smoking may increase a person’s risk for serious complications from COVID-19.

We must increase the price of tobacco products including e-cigarettes to protect Oregonians. Measure 108 will raise the cigarette tax and for the first-time tax e-cigarettes in Oregon. The cigarette tax will keep nearly 19,000 kids and young adults from smoking and save nearly 12,000 lives.

As we work to eliminate racial and health inequities, we should not forget about tobacco use. For decades, Big Tobacco has intentionally targeted low-income, racial and ethnic communities, spending about $116 million dollars annually in Oregon to market deadly, addictive products to Oregonians.

For some people who use tobacco, this crisis might provide motivation to quit. For others, trying to quit during a stressful time might be harder. We must do everything to help people who want to quit using tobacco be successful. Passing Measure 108 will fund tobacco prevention and cessation programs. Revenue also funds access to health care for 1 in 4 Oregonians on the Oregon Health Plan at a time when access to health care is critical.

That’s why I’m voting yes on Measure 108……won’t you join me?  

Kathy Ottele

Salem