Deschutes County may license tobacco retailers

Goal: Better track sales, curb sales to minors

Tobacco licensing

BEND, Ore. - The Bend City Council is working alongside Deschutes County officials to create a licensing system that they hope will better manage tobacco sales and make inroads to prevent tobacco sales to minors.

The tobacco license would work much like state liquor licenses and help to keep track of where tobacco products are being sold.

The goal of the program is to keep tobacco products out of the hands of minors. 

Oregon is one of only nine states that don't license tobacco retailers, according to officials endorsing the move.

But many convenience stores are very dependent on tobacco sales, and are concerned that the changes may make sales more difficult for them.

According to the Deschutes County proposal, stores would be able to apply for the licenses for a small fee. It also would expand what is defined as a tobacco product to include dissolvable products, e-cigarettes and vaping products, which are all very popular with minors.

While many store owners say they agree it is smart to keep tobacco products out of the hands of minors, they are worried about the process of obtaining a license could be long and costly.

As commissioners were briefed on the proposal at a Monday work session, the county is still working to flesh out those details.

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