July 18, 2019
Contact: Beth Bickford, Executive Director, 614-832-0336
Columbus, OH – The Association of Ohio Health Commissioners (AOHC) applauds the law change to limit the sale of tobacco products, including vaping products, to persons 21 and over in Ohio. This important public health policy was included in House Bill 166, the state biennial budget.
Tobacco products remain the leading preventable cause of death in Ohio and the United States and are responsible for over $5.6 billion in health care costs in Ohio each year. Tobacco use almost always begins during adolescence and young adulthood. About 95 percent of adult smokers began smoking before they turned 21. If current trends continue, 259,000 of Ohio’s youth alive today will die prematurely from a smoking-related illness.
Increasing the age for sale of tobacco products to 21 will help counter the tobacco industry’s efforts to target young people at a critical time when many move from experimenting with tobacco to regular smoking or vaping. In Ohio alone, the tobacco industry spends over $1 million a day marketing its products. It will also help keep these products out of high schools, where younger teens often obtain tobacco products from older students.
From 2017 to 2018, current e-cigarette use by high school students increased 78 percent, from 11.7 to 20.8 percent, accounting for a troubling 3.05 million American high school students using e-cigarettes in 2018. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration Commissioner and the Surgeon General have referred to youth e-cigarette use as an “epidemic.”
“Research has shown that changing the age to 21 can significantly impact how many young people start to smoke or vape. We believe this policy change will be a critical tool in stemming the current trend of increased smoking and vaping rates in Ohio’s young people," stated Julie Miller, President of AOHC.
AOHC is the voice of local public health in Ohio, representing the 112 local health districts across the state. AOHC is working to strengthen the State’s public health system to protect our citizens against the disease threats of today, and promote a vision for the future of healthy people in healthy Ohio communities.