Ohio raises smoking age from 18 to 21

Cigarettes are displayed on a shelf, Monday, Aug. 28, 2017, in New York. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

The legal age to purchase and use tobacco products in Ohio has been raised to 21 after Governor Mike DeWine signed the state’s next budget on Thursday.

The budget bill, which was passed by the House and Senate on Wednesday, included a grandfather clause for those who are 18 by October 1 to be exempt. DeWine vetoed that provision.

In a statement listing the reason for the veto, DeWine wrote:

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“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. 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.

“Thank you to Governor DeWine and state lawmakers for taking this tremendous step in protecting our youth from the death and disease associated with tobacco use,” said Harold Wimmer, president and CEO of the Lung Association. “The Ohio governor and legislators who supported this law proved that they are truly focused on the health of their constituents. With the rise of easily concealable and fruit and candy flavored e-cigarettes, Tobacco 21 is important now more than ever—protecting youth, reducing smoking rates, saving on healthcare costs and saving lives.”

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