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Recent updates! – Tobacco 21 Progress

The Tobacco 21 movement in Ohio began in the Spring of 2015, with the Preventing Tobacco Addiction Foundation and its allies working to raise the age in their hometowns. Council Member Kip Greenhill introduced and championed the measure in Upper Arlington, a suburb of Columbus, while over 2 dozen residents of Upper Arlington testified before city council in support of Tobacco 21. The ordinance was quickly and unanimously passed. Bexley quickly followed, with an ordinance introduced by Council Member Deneese Owen also passing unanimously. Since then, numerous cities have followed suit, including Cleveland, Columbus, and Akron. Mr. Greenhill, Ms. Owen, and the residents and council members of Upper Arlington and Bexley deserve great recognition for their leadership.

Ohio currently has an above national average rate of both high school smoking and adult smoking. An estimated 259,000 children now under the age of 18 will eventually die prematurely due to smoking, with 6,400 children becoming daily smokers each year. The result is an annual health care cost of $5.64 billion that is directly caused by smoking, and another $5.88 billion in lost productivity. Despite this, the state only spends 11.0% of the CDC recommended amount on tobacco prevention, though this amount of funding is actually higher than in recent years.


State law has no preemption language regarding youth access to tobacco, and local governments have had past success in enacting indoor smoking bans, which were eventually adopted by the state. This means grassroots campaigns in support of raising the sales age of tobacco to 21 could gain support. It has been our experience that the most powerful incentive for the state legislature to act is the initiative of local citizens and governmental leaders. Statewide, California, Oregon, New Jersey, Maine, Hawaii, and Massachusetts’ laws all began at the local level where powerful tobacco industry lobbyists have little sway. The state is also home of the Tobacco 21 project and the Preventing Tobacco Addiction Foundation.

Recent Updates

  • 10/15/2018 – Cleveland Heights becomes the 15th city in Ohio to adopt a Tobacco 21 ordinance (Effective January 1, 2019). There are now 15 local Tobacco 21 policies in Ohio, representing 14.8% of the state population.

  • 07/12/2018 – Kent becomes 14th city in Ohio to adopt Tobacco 21 ordinance (Effective July 18, 2018)

  • 07/08/2018 – Norton becomes 13th city in Ohio to adopt Tobacco 21 ordinance (effective August 9, 2018)

  • 06/07/2018 – Wickliffe becomes 12th city in Ohio to adopt Tobacco 21 ordinance

  • 05/21/2018 – Worthington becomes 11th city in Ohio to adopt Tobacco 21 ordinance

  • 4/16/2018 – Akron becomes 10th city in Ohio to adopt Tobacco 21 ordinance (effective April 17, 2018)

  • 12/4/2017 – Dublin becomes 9th city in Ohio to adopt Tobacco 21 ordinance (effective March 1, 2018)

  • 6/20/2017 – Powell becomes 8th city in Ohio to adopt Tobacco 21 ordinance

  • 12/21/2016 – Euclid becomes 7th city in Ohio to adopt Tobacco 21 ordinance

  • 12/12/2016 – Columbus becomes 6th city in Ohio to adopt Tobacco 21 ordinance

  • 12/7/2015 – Cleveland becomes 5th city in Ohio to adopt Tobacco 21 ordinance

  • 11/17/2015 – New Albany becomes 4th city in Ohio to adopt Tobacco 21 ordinance

  • 9/21/2015 – Grandview Heights becomes 3rd city in Ohio to adopt Tobacco 21 Ordinance

  • 6/23/2015 – Bexley becomes 2nd city in Ohio to adopt Tobacco 21 ordinance

  • 6/8/2015 – Upper Arlington becomes 1st city in Ohio to adopt Tobacco 21 ordinance

Show All Updates

For More Information, Please Contact:

  • Micah Berman, JD
  • Former Executive Director, Ohio Tobacco Public Policy Center
  • Public health law & tobacco policy expert
  • MicahlBerman@Gmail.Com

Local Partners:

  • Bruce Barcelo
  • Montgomery County - Dayton
  • Ohio Tobacco 21 Local Partner
  • Shernaz Reporter
  • Greene County – Yellow Springs
  • Ohio Tobacco 21 Local Partner
  • Elle Evans
  • Clark County – New Carlisle
  • Ohio Tobacco 21 Local Partner

Visit Our Resources:

Tobacco Free Kids Ohio

The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids is a leading force in the fight to reduce tobacco use and its deadly toll in the United States and around the world. Our vision: A future free of the death and disease caused by tobacco.

American Lung Association State Report Card

The ALA ‘State of Tobacco Control’ report tracks progress on key tobacco control policies at the state and federal levels, and assigns grades based on tobacco control laws and regulations in effect as of January 2, 2014.

SLATI State Information Ohio

SLATI (State Legislated Actions on Tobacco Issues) is an extensively researched and invaluable source of information on tobacco control laws and policy, and is the only up-to-date and comprehensive summary of state tobacco control laws.

The Preventing Tobacco Addiction Foundation and the Campaign For Tobacco Free Kids support these four principles for Tobacco 21 ordinances:

  1. Include all tobacco and nicotine products, specifically e-cigarettes. The only exceptions would be FDA recognized nicotine replacement products (gum, patch, etc.) intended for cessation.
  2. Include significant enforcement provisions against illegal sales as research shows that consistent enforcement is of critical importance.
  3. Not include any pre-emption against local authority in more stringent regulation of tobacco or other nicotine product sales, secondhand smoke, or e-cigarette vapor.
  4. Ideally not include possession, usage, or purchase (PUP) penalties that result in criminal records, and instead place the onus on the purveyors of these addictive products.

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