Ohio approves Tobacco 21

(Ohio) – It is now illegal for anyone under the age of 21 to buy tobacco products in the state of Ohio.

The legal age to purchase and use tobacco products has been raised after Governor Mike DeWine signed the state’s next budget on Thursday, July 18th, 2019. The budget bill, passed by the House and Senate earlier this week, included a grandfather clause for those who are 18 by October 1st to be exempt. DeWine vetoed that provision.

Most adult smokers begin smoking as teens, and most daily smokers begin doing so between the ages of 18 and 21. Exempting current 18 through 20-year-old individuals from the minimum age increase to purchase tobacco products could result in more of these individuals using tobacco products daily, reducing their life expectancy, and increasing Ohio’s long-term healthcare costs,” explained DeWine in a public statement. “Furthermore, this loophole will create a substantial administrative burden for businesses tasked with upholding the law. Therefore, this veto is in the public interest.”

Ohio is the 18th state in the U.S. to adopt a Tobacco 21 law.

According to the Tobacco 21 website, the movement in Ohio began in the Spring of 2015, with the Preventing Tobacco Addiction Foundation and its allies working to raise the age in their hometowns. Council Member Kip Greenhill introduced and championed the measure in Upper Arlington, a suburb of Columbus, while over 2 dozen residents of Upper Arlington testified before city council in support of Tobacco 21. The ordinance was quickly and unanimously passed. Bexley quickly followed, with an ordinance introduced by Council Member Deneese Owen also passing unanimously. Since then, numerous cities have followed suit, including Cleveland, Columbus, and Akron. Mr. Greenhill, Ms. Owen, and the residents and council members of Upper Arlington and Bexley deserve great recognition for their leadership.

Ohio currently has an above national average rate of both high school smoking and adult smoking. An estimated 259,000 children now under the age of 18 will eventually die prematurely due to smoking, with 6,400 children becoming daily smokers each year. The result is an annual health care cost of $5.64 billion that is directly caused by smoking and another $5.88 billion in lost productivity. Despite this, the state only spends 11.0% of the CDC recommended amount on tobacco prevention, though this amount of funding is actually higher than in recent years.

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