Ohio Smoking Age Increased to 21

(Credit: Fried Dough / Flickr)

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine signed the new budget bill last week raising the smoking age from 18 to 21. This affects tobacco-related items such as rolling papers, filters, blunt wrappers, liquids and vapes. 

This budget bill is meant to decrease the percentage of young smokers and minors who smoke. Not only did the bill increase the age requirement, it also increased the tax on vape products to 17%, a considerable hike as before the tax could range from 5.75 to 8%, depending on where the products were bought. 

A vape is also known as an electronic cigarette, or e-cigarette. The e-cigarette is a battery that releases a vapor that stimulates the idea of smoking a cigarette. Vapes are still addictive because of the very high nicotine content within. 

Many choose to vape, as a way to slowly lower the nicotine levels in an attempt to ultimately quit altogether. One very popular vape within the youth is a Juul. Almost one-fifth of middle and high school students have seen a Juul being used in school. The Juul has a sleek clean look that grabs the attention of young modern kids. 

A Juul e-cigarette alongside a traditional cigarette. (Vaping360 / Flickr)

Although the Juul looks appealing to younger people and has many flavors to choose from, it has an extreme amount of nicotine. One Juul pod contains the same amount of nicotine as twenty cigarettes, according to Truth Initiative, a non-profit tobacco control organization. Though this claim has been a hotly contested statistic.

A spokesperson for Juul commented on the increase of age: “We strongly support raising the purchasing age for all tobacco products, including vapor products, to 21 and have been actively supporting legislation to do this in states across the country and at the federal level.”

That is why we will continue to work with lawmakers across the country to enact these effective policies.”

Tobacco industry sales had been falling, with companies citing millennials as the cause. However, vapes such as Juul have created an increase in business from younger smokers.

“The e-cigarette industry is targeting the next generation with highly addictive fruit- and candy-flavored nicotine products,” said Ohio Department of Health Director Amy Acton.

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The new budget bill will cause the state to lose almost $39.7 million in tobacco tax money over two years.  DeWine stated that he cares more about the addicted youth rather than the millions of dollars they will lose due to the age increase. 

Smoking has many negative consequences and can often result in heartbreaking news. Smoking can increase the risk of lung cancer, throat cancer, severe breathing problems, heart disease and strokes. 

(Lindsay Fox / Flickr)

In 2016 there were 20,180 deaths attributable to smoking compared to the 3,487 deaths caused by opioid overdose in the same year.

DeWine also vetoed the grandfather clause which exempted people who would be between the ages of 18 and 20 before October 1. 

The reason he denied the grandfather clause is because that is when most individuals start becoming addicted. Studies show that 95% of adult smokers took up the habit before they turned 21.

DeWine took action in hopes of ending nicotine addiction for the youth of Ohio. Smoking tobacco or nicotine products can cause severe health problems that can be avoided.

Ohio joins states such as California, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Illinois and New York in raising the age limit.

Nikki Neumann
Reporter

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