Measure to tax cigarettes at county level heads to Senate

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SALEM, Ore. — By a narrow margin, the Oregon House has voted to let counties tax cigarettes. The final tally was 31-29 Thursday.

The measure now heads to the Senate.

Tobacco taxes are currently the exclusive authority of the state.

Proponents say the bill would help struggling counties raise revenue while discouraging smoking. Critics say tobacco taxes are regressive because smokers tend to have lower incomes.

It’s unclear how many counties would choose to tax tobacco products or what rate they would charge.

Forty percent of county tobacco tax revenue would have to be spent on public health programs or addiction services.