In 1998, the Attorneys General of 46 states signed a historic settlement with the four largest tobacco companies in the United States to resolve litigation over billions in health care costs related to the known hazards of tobacco use. The Master Settlement Agreement also created a broad array of restrictions on how tobacco products may be advertised and promoted, particularly with respect to targeting children. The Oregon Department of Justice is charged with enforcing those restrictions.
Since 2000, a group of Attorneys General also continues to work with sellers of tobacco products to implement business practices that help prevent tobacco sales to minors. This ongoing multistate enforcement effort has produced close to a dozen settlements with large retailers such as Circle K, Wal Mart, Rite Aid, 7-11, Exxon/Mobile and BP.
For more information about the Master Settlement Agreement, see the National Association of Attorneys General Tobacco Project.
Electronic cigarettes. Some companies market electronic cigarettes (also known as e-cigarettes) as a safe alternative to conventional tobacco products, even though they contain known carcinogens and toxic chemicals. Some of these companies have also targeted children by offering e-cigarettes in sweet flavors such as bubblegum, chocolate and cookies 'n' cream. E-cigarettes contain nicotine, but they do not contain tobacco, so there is no age restriction on their purchase.
While e-cigarettes are not illegal under Oregon law, companies are prohibited from misrepresenting the safety or nature of their products without providing reliable scientific evidence to support such claims. In 2009 Oregon became the first state to take enforcement action against distributors of electronic cigarettes on those grounds, effectively banning the sale of two major brands in the state. The legal debate over e-cigarettes will likely continue for some time.
Learn more from the Federal Trade Commission
Information for Businesses: