COLUMBUS, Ohio — Gov. Mike DeWine will raise Ohio’s smoking age from 18 to 21 when he signs the state budget bill this week.
The new restriction would ban almost all Ohio teenagers from purchasing tobacco and vaping products. A small group — those between 18 and 21 on Oct. 1, when the bill becomes law — will be grandfathered in and may continue to make such transactions legally.
Officials estimate the change will result in the state foregoing $39.7 million in tobacco tax money over two years, according to the Journal-News, but will improve public health statewide.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, most long-term tobacco use begins in adolescence, and nearly 90 percent of smokers have their first cigarette by age 18.
Official CDC data indicates a wide variety of grim outcomes for those habitual smokers later in life: Elevated rates of cancer, stroke, heart disease, cataracts, arthritis, fertility problems and premature deaths, among others. About 90% of lung cancer deaths and 80% of deaths from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease are attributable to smoking.
The Journal-News also noted more Ohioans die each year of smoking-related causes than of opioid overdoses.
Ohio will join more than a dozen others, including New York, Texas, Illinois and Maryland, in raising its smoking age to 21.