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503-378-6002 or Kristina.Edmunson@doj.state.or.us
About Ellen F. Rosenblum
Oregon Attorney General Hardy Myers today announced that he will take action to prevent sale of imported hand-rolled cigarettes to children. Myers acted after two Oregon children made undercover purchases of the cigarettes, known as "bidis," from retailers who failed to demand proof of age.
"I am committed to stopping the sale of tobacco products to children," Myers said. "I find it outrageous that a retailer would fail to verify age before selling its addictive and dangerous products to an eight-year-old child."
Two Oregon children aged eight and 15 purchased chocolate, strawberry and vanilla flavored bidis by telephone and through four Internet-based retailers. Three retailers failed to ask young purchasers to state or provide proof of their ages. Thirteen other states participating in the investigation reported similar results.
"Bidis threaten to add to the already disturbing rate of youth smoking, and are even more damaging than regular cigarettes." Myers said. "Along with the youths themselves, retailers who sell these products share responsibility for keeping kids and tobacco apart."
"Bidis smokers have higher risk of getting cancer than those who smoke filtered cigarettes, and have five times the risk of heart disease as non-smokers," Myers said. "Bidis contain three times as much nicotine and five times as much tar as regular American cigarettes."
Oregon's consumer-protection laws require Myers to give businesses the opportunity to voluntarily stop unlawful conduct. If the business does not stop, then the Department of Justice can sue.
"Unless these allegations are promptly resolved by settlement, we will use all of our legal tools to stop these sales," Myers said.
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