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Since You Asked

Oregon's ban on 'self-serve' gas has lasted since 1951 Why doesn't Oregon have self-serve gas? Has it always been this way or was it self-serve at one time? Don't get me wrong, I love having my gas pumped for me, I'm just curious.

' Blanche C., Medford

Well Blanche, had you ventured into the Oregon Territory before 1951 you might have spotted someone legally pumping their own gas. But way back when Harry Truman was in the White House, Oregonians figured it was best to let someone else fuel their tanks.

When it comes to the ballot box, Oregonians treat lifting the ban with as much enthusiasm as they do accepting a sales tax.

The laws were enacted to protect consumers and gas station owners from costly, and possibly deadly, accidents.

Education and improved technology, however, have made pumping gas safer and easier during the past 50 years. Since the 1970s, especially following the 1973 Arab oil embargo, self-service gas stations have grown in popularity and often saved consumers money.

In its endorsement to end the practice in 2001, the Mail Tribune stated:

Self-serve is like having no service, opponents say, but in fact many of Oregon's gas stations already offer nearly no service ' attendants swipe our debit cards through a device at the pump and call it good, or pump our gas and then force us out of the car to pay.

All while charging us gas prices that routinely are among the nation's highest and telling us we're getting good service.

Send questions to Since You Asked, Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by e-mail to