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Local cigarette tax law headed for state Senate

Multnomah County may be able to approve a local tax on cigarettes, as it’s long wanted to do.

The Oregon House passed House Bill 2870-A on Thursday, which frees counties to enact their own tobacco taxes. The so-called pre-emption was imposed by the Legislature, which meant only the state could levy tobacco taxes.

The bill passed the House by a narrow 31-29 margin, and heads to the Senate.

The bill requires at least 40 percent of the revenue to go into tobacco-use prevention programs, mental health and addiction services. The law caps county taxes at the level of state taxes, which means it could result in a doubling of tobacco taxes.

Tobacco industry lobbyists wield outsized influence in the Legislature, but have less clout in liberal-run counties like Multnomah County. The bill also was supported by Lane County commissioners, among others.