When one in four Oregon high school students report having used nicotine vapes, you know we have a problem in our state. But it’s a problem we can solve with Measure 108.

People of all ages are suffering from vaping-related illnesses, but youth vaping in Oregon has increased 80% in the past two years alone. Tobacco companies are targeting kids with candy-flavored vapes that taste like gummy bears or cotton candy and are selling them for as little as 99 cents. According to the Journal of American Medicine, young people who vape are nearly three times more likely to start smoking cigarettes.

Slated for the November ballot, Measure 108 will finally tax nicotine vape products in Oregon and increase the cigarette tax to bring it in line with other states. A large, statewide coalition including St. Charles Health System, the Bend Chamber of Commerce and local businesses, the American Lung Association, community leaders and more than 250 others are supporting Measure 108. They know what the research shows: that raising the price of nicotine vapes and commercial cigarettes will save lives and prevent a generation from getting hooked in the first place.

Additionally, Measure 108 was written so that the dollars raised can only be used for tobacco cessation and prevention programs and to fund the Oregon Health Plan, which serves one in four Oregonians (including more than 400,000 children in our state), and nearly 56,000 people in Central Oregon. Measure 108 will protect this vital coverage, ensuring people continue getting the care they need, when they need it.

We all pay the price for tobacco — almost $1.5 billion per year for smoking-related health care costs. In Oregon, tobacco use is the No. 1 cause of preventable death, devastating the families of about 12,000 individuals per year. I’m tired of seeing our patients suffer from the effects of tobacco use, and the cost to our health care system is simply too high. During this very difficult time in our community and in our state, people throughout Oregon and from all political perspectives agree it’s time to band together against vaping and tobacco for the sake of our children’s — and our community’s — health.

Oregon doesn’t tax nicotine vapes one penny and has some of the lowest tobacco taxes in the country. Research shows that the single best way to reduce vaping and smoking is to increase the cost. If vapes and tobacco products cost more, fewer people will use them, saving lives.

Too many of our children and neighbors have been harmed by tobacco. We can help save lives and create a healthier community. Please join me, and many other caring Oregonians, in voting YES on Measure 108 when you cast your ballot in November. It’s a great way to ensure a healthy future for our children and our entire community. For more information, visit YesOn108.org.

Dr. Jeff Absalon, M.D.,chief physician executive for St. Charles Health System

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