Ohio to raise smoking age to 21

Across Ohio the legal purchase age for tobacco and vaping products will increase to 21, up from 18, when Gov. Mike DeWine signs the state budget bill.

The new restriction will apply to anyone who hasn’t turned 18 by Oct. 1, 2019 – allowing those who are already between 18 and 21 to continue purchasing tobacco and vaping products.

Officials estimate the change will result in the state foregoing $39.7 million in tobacco tax money over two years.

Ohio will join several other states, including Illinois, New York, California and Connecticut, that adopted a statewide Tobacco 21 purchase age.

Studies show 95 percent of adult smokers took up the habit before they turned 21. Nearly 21 percent of high school age youths use e-cigarettes, making them more at risk for using regular cigarettes later, according to the Ohio Department of Health.

Smoking increases the risks that the smoker will suffer from cancer, chronic breathing problems, heart disease and strokes. Pregnant women who smoke run the risk of delivering premature or low-birth weight babies – which contributes to Ohio’s high rates of infant mortality.

More than 1 in 5 Ohioans smoke and tobacco-related diseases kill far more Ohioans every year than opioids — about 20,180 smoking attributable deaths versus 3,497 opioid overdose deaths in 2016.

This year 5,400 Ohio children will become new daily smokers, according to the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network.

In 2006, 58.5 percent of Ohio voters said yes to an indoor smoking ban law.

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