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Mark yes twice, turn in ballot

Voters typically don’t get excited about elections held in odd-numbered years, but the mail balloting that ends Tuesday has important consequences for the health of this state’s children and its landscape. Citizens ought not allow either the small number of issues on the ballot or the barrage of negative advertising to deter them from their civic duty. If anything, they should feel motivated to reject the tactics of the tobacco industry, in particular, and approve an increase in cigarette taxes to improve health care for young Oregonians. Big Tobacco has spent an obscene amount of money — nearly $12 million and counting — in an attempt to confuse voters about Measure 50. The issue is really pretty simple: whether to raise the cigarette tax by 84.5 cents per pack and use the proceeds to expand state health coverage for more than 100,000 children. In the past, it hasn’t been that tough to get Oregonians to approve cigarette taxes, but the real danger now is that the combination of low voter turnout and round-the-clock TV and radio ads could result in rejection of a tax that most people probably support. Don’t let that happen. If you approve of linking cigarette taxes to better health care, make sure you return your ballot by 8 p.m. Tuesday. There’s also no doubt that the voters’ decision regarding Measure 49 will have long-term ramifications. Our view is that, despite its flaws, Measure 49 is better than Measure 37, approved by voters in 2004. But no matter where voters come down on this measure, they cannot deny the importance of land use reform to the state and its environmental and economic future. So please vote. In Multnomah County as of Wednesday, only one in five voters had returned their mail-in ballots. It’s too late to mail them, but voters can drop ballots at any library branch or county elections office.