PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A bold step to try and keep teens from getting addicted to nicotine is moving forward in Oregon’s largest county.

Multnomah County commissioners held a public hearing Monday on a proposed county-wide ban on flavored tobacco and nicotine products.

The commissioners had attempted to do this back in 2019 before the COVID-19 pandemic, but now are moving forward, despite a Washington County judge tossing out a voter-approved ban in September.

The commissioners heard public testimony on proposed rules that include a ban on selling flavored nicotine products often used in vaping-including those with menthol. State data shows most kids ages 12-17 report using flavored products. The use among older smokers is far less.

“I am deeply concerned about the impact of these flavored tobacco products on young people in our community,” one person told the commission.

Earlier on Monday, public health officials and community leaders held a press conference in support of a potential sales ban, many also speaking to a suggested negative impact by the tobacco industry on communities of color.

“I care about our kids and flavored tobacco is killing our kids, both through marketing and actual usage,” said Marcus C. Mundy of the Coalition of Communities of Color.

Washington County voters approved a similar ban last year but court challenges led to it being overturned. The judge ruled a ban has to come from the state — it is being appealed.

But Multnomah County leaders say the ruling doesn’t apply to Oregon’s largest county since it has its own tobacco retail licensing and they believe it could have a bigger impact.

State rules require that customers need to be at least 21 years old to buy tobacco, nicotine or vape products in Oregon. Studies show underage users get them from friends or family, which is why there’s a proposed ban on sales to anyone.

Some speaking out against a ban included those with a background in law enforcement with the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. One suggested a sales ban would not only take officers away from crime enforcement, but also create more crime.

“It’s out of the commerce and it’s on the street. The kids and the adults have to buy it from street corners and criminals who are making money in the illicit markets,” one person told the commission.

Businesses also spoke against a sales ban and suggested this could hurt businesses as customers take their business to other counties or even online with companies out of state. They also suggested instead focusing on measures like age verification software to keep product sales from minors.

“It is not equitable to take a privilege of selling legal products from those that sell it responsibly,” Plaid Pantry CEO Jonathan Polonsky told the commission.

On Thursday, the Multnomah County Board of Commissioners is set to hear a first reading of the ordinance. It’s unclear how soon a vote could come. They are still taking public comment online through Dec. 14.