Ohio Budget Raises Smoking Age from 18 to 21 With No Exceptions


Under Ohio’s newly-passed budget, the legal age to purchase cigarettes and vaping products in the state will jump from 18 to 21.

The 3,200-page budget document contains several pages of new tobacco-related provisions, all of which make it “illegal for any person under the age of 21 to purchase tobacco or alternative nicotine products.”

The budget defines “alternative nicotine products” as any “electronic smoking device, vapor product, or any other product or device that consists of or contains nicotine that can be ingested into the body by means of, including, but not limited to, chewing, smoking, absorbing, dissolving or inhaling.”

DeWine used his line-item veto privileges to nix a provision in the budget that would have “grandfathered” in individuals who were 18 years or older as of October 1, 2019.

“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,” DeWine said when vetoing the provision.

“Furthermore, this loophole will create a substantial administrative burden for businesses tasked with upholding the law,” he added.

The new law will cost the state an estimated $20 million in tax revenue per year, Fox 8 reports.

As The Ohio Star previously reported, anti-smoking groups actually testified against the Legislature’s proposal to raise the smoking age because it penalizes youth rather than retailers.

“Simply changing ‘18’ to ‘21’ without changing the structure of licensure and enforcement would be meaningless,” Wendy Hyde of the Preventing Tobacco Addiction Foundation said during a May testimony. “Penalties for repeated violations must result in meaningful fines and be followed up with license suspension for those few retailers who refuse to comply. Penalizing youth is not an effective strategy for reducing youth smoking.”

Ohio is now the eighteenth state to raise the smoking age to 21.

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Anthony Gockowski is managing editor of Battleground State News, The Ohio Star, and The Minnesota Sun. Follow Anthony on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].



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