The Ohio House of Representatives Did Not Go Far Enough to Protect Buckeye Kids

Today, the Ohio House of Representatives Passed the State’s Operating Budget Which Includes Weak Tobacco 21 Language

May 9, 2019

Columbus, OH – May 9, 2019– This statement can be attributed to Jeff Stephens, director of government relations in Ohio for the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN).

“As an organization dedicated to saving lives, ACS CAN was pleased to see Gov. DeWine taking steps to address public health initiatives in his budget when he included raising the age of sale for tobacco to 21. However, the policy as it is currently drafted and passed by the House of Representatives will not provide the public health results stakeholders are looking for, and will not have support from the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network CAN until it is strengthened to include policies that are critical to effectively protecting kids from tobacco’s harms.

“ACS CAN will continue working with the Ohio Department of Health and members of the General Assembly to strengthen the policy to reflect the best practices learned from the over 400 local municipalities across the country and 12 states that have passed tobacco 21 laws. A strong tobacco 21 bill would do all of the following, yet Ohio’s current policy only does two:

  1. Covers all tobacco products, including electronic cigarettes.

  2. Does not preempt other jurisdictions from passing strong tobacco control laws.

  • Provides public education, training and technical assistance to retailers.

  • Implements measures for active enforcement, such as retailer licensing and penalties, including license suspension and revocation.

  • Does not create new categories of products, which would exempt them from other tobacco control laws.

  • Does not penalize youth.

“Nationally, 95% of adults who smoke start before they turn 21. Restricting youth and young adult access to tobacco products promises to be a critical component to reducing initiation and a lifelong addiction.

“We cannot leave Ohio’s kids vulnerable to the tobacco industry, which aims to hook buckeye children into a lifetime of addiction to tobacco through masterful marketing. The tobacco industry spends over $426 million per year on marketing its addictive and deadly products in Ohio – that’s over $1 million per day in Ohio alone! As we stand today, 259,000 Ohio kids will die prematurely from tobacco.

“It’s time for our legislature to choose between buckeye kids and Big Tobacco.”

The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) is making cancer a top priority for public officials and candidates at the federal, state and local levels. ACS CAN empowers advocates across the country to make their voices heard and influence evidence-based public policy change as well as legislative and regulatory solutions that will reduce the cancer burden. As the American Cancer Society’s nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy affiliate, ACS CAN is critical to the fight for a world without cancer. For more information, visit


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Michelle Zimmerman
Senior Regional Media Advocacy Manager
Columbus, OH