A Democratic lawmaker representing Portland in the Oregon House of Representatives introduced a bill this week that aims to put cigarettes in the same controlled substance category as Special K and anabolic steroids, making them illegal to both possess and distribute without a doctor's note.
The same goes for any other products that contain nicotine.
If Rep. Mitch Greenlick's bill passes, it would make violation of the law punishable by a fine of $6,250 and/or up to one year in prison.
But the 17% of Oregonians who smoke shouldn't start hoarding cancer sticks just yet: Willamette Week foresees a fight to the bill's inevitable death between Greenlick and tobacco lobbyists, who will be flanked by businesses that rely on the sale of cigarettes and doctors who have enough on their plate without denying people cigarette prescriptions.
Greenlick himself doesn't expect the bill to get very far, but hopes the threat alone is enough to spark up a dialog.
"To have a substance that addictive for sale over the counter just seems wrong," he told WW. "If it doesn't pass, I hope that it will enhance the probability of an increase in the cigarette tax passing."