Multnomah County Judge Denies Stay In Flavored Tobacco Ruling

Multnomah County

Last week, Multnomah County Circuit Court Judge Benjamin Souede denied a tobacco industry request to halt enforcement of a County ordinance ending the sale of flavored tobacco and nicotine products. 

An additional request for a stay could follow, filed with the Oregon Court of Appeals. But no such request is pending yet. 

Souede’s denial this week follows his September 2023 ruling in favor of Multnomah County’s ban on sale of flavored tobacco products. On Dec. 15, 2022, the Board of Commissioners unanimously approved an ordinance that will ban the sale of flavored tobacco products. The ordinance is set to take effect Jan. 1, 2024. 

The suit, filed by 21+ Tobacco and Vapor Retail Association of Oregon, No Moke Daddy, LLC, and Paul Bates, alleged that the ban of the sale of flavored tobacco products and the County’s Tobacco Retail Licensure Program were both unlawful and unenforceable. 

The County’s sales ban comes after years of wide-ranging work to address a vaping and smoking crisis among young people. The Health Department’s primary concern is the number of preventable deaths and health issues – including cancers and heart risks – associated with the use of flavored tobacco and nicotine products. In Multnomah County, cancer and heart disease are the leading causes of death. 

The Health Department pointed to studies showing that young people tend to use flavored nicotine and tobacco products in the form of e-cigarettes or vaping as a gateway to nicotine addiction. 

“I am really grateful to Multnomah County Commissioners for leading the state in so many tobacco-related policies from raising the legal sales age to 21, implementing tobacco retail licensing, and now the restricted sale of flavored tobacco products,” said Kari McFarlan, Tobacco Control and Prevention Program Supervisor. “This ordinance is another step toward protecting young people from the harms of tobacco and nicotine.” 

Multnomah County’s ordinance also addresses longstanding racial disparities by banning the sale of menthol products. Menthol as an additive flavor makes it easier to start smoking and harder to quit. This has contributed to a greater death and disease burden for Black, Latinx, LGBTQIA2S+, and other communities. 

Nationally, tobacco advertising and discounted menthol products are more common in neighborhoods with a higher percentage of Black residents. This is one reason African Americans are more likely to die from tobacco-related disease than white Americans.