Pamplin Media Group – 2021 UNDER REVIEW: Commissioner of Aloha Influences Washington County Board of Directors
Newly elected Nafisa Fai won majority support for tougher measures to limit tobacco sales.
She’s been on the Washington County commission for less than a year, but Nafisa Fai is not waiting to make her mark in the county government.
Fai ran for county commissioner last year, after incumbent President Dick Schouten chose to run for a seat in the Oregon Senate rather than be re-elected. At the time, Fai, a resident of Aloha, touted her background in public health and community work – among other efforts, she was one of those appointed by Governor Kate Brown to an advisory committee of the public health division of the Oregon Health Authority – and said she wanted to apply that experience as an elected county commissioner.
The composition of the county commission has changed dramatically over the past two election cycles, from an all-male council dominated by rural conservatives to a predominantly female council led by suburban liberals. This gives a commissioner like Fai a degree of influence that his predecessor, Schouten, lacked for much of his time on the board.
In September and October, the county commission considered a proposal by anti-tobacco advocates to restrict the sale of flavored tobacco and vaping products to businesses such as liquor stores that do not serve customers. under the age of 21. This speech was widely criticized by owners of convenience stores. and others who argued their businesses would be negatively affected – the ordinance would simply drive their customers to liquor stores, which they could no longer compete with.
The council’s two Tory commissioners, Roy Rogers and Jerry Willey, had reservations about the draft ordinance, arguing that it would be unfair to tell some companies they can’t sell certain products.
Fai proposed a different solution: widen the ban to also include businesses with an age limit, so that no Washington County retailer can legally sell flavored tobacco and vaping products.
“This will really help reposition Washington County (with) bold commissioners, as a bold council that is really changing the course of Oregon,” Fai said, adding, “It’s a tough decision, but we are protecting ultimately our community and our youth. ”
What would likely have been a 3-2 vote on the county commission to restrict the sale of flavored tobacco and vaping products has become a 3-2 vote to outright ban the sale of flavored tobacco and vaping products. Fai was joined by frequent allies Kathryn Harrington and Pam Treece in voting to amend, and then pass, the ordinance in November. Washington County became the first county in Oregon to adopt such a ban.
“This helps discourage access and education for young people, as well as denormalize tobacco use in our communities,” said Harrington, explaining his decision to support the Fai amendments.
Willey was especially frustrated with what he called a “bait and switch”.
“We should be able to find something that works for everyone,” Willey protested before the board voted to pass Fai’s amendments. “It’s a bad idea.”
The ordinance went into effect earlier this month, although it will be formally enforced in the new year.
A Washington County spokesperson said that until June, the Oregon Health Authority “will focus on education” to bring stores into compliance with the ban. After that, the OHA will conduct unannounced inspections and cite violators.
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