Home News Ohio Senate Overrules DeWine, Paves Way for Flavored Tobacco Sales

Ohio Senate Overrules DeWine, Paves Way for Flavored Tobacco Sales

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Ohio – In a move defying Governor Mike DeWine, the Ohio Senate on Wednesday voted to override his veto on a provision banning cities and towns from imposing their own restrictions on flavored tobacco sales. The legislation, which becomes law without the governor’s signature, has ignited a fierce debate between public health advocates and the tobacco industry.

The provision was tucked into the state’s two-year budget bill passed in July. DeWine, a Republican, twice vetoed the measure, citing concerns about limiting local governments’ authority and the potential for increased youth vaping. He argued for a statewide approach to regulating tobacco and nicotine products.

However, Republicans in the Senate, who hold a supermajority, rallied behind the legislation. They argued that it would create consistency and clarity for businesses throughout the state, eliminating a patchwork of local ordinances that could be burdensome to navigate. Additionally, some lawmakers expressed skepticism about the effectiveness of local bans in curbing teen tobacco use.

“This is about ensuring a level playing field for businesses across Ohio,” said Senate Majority Leader Matt Huffman (R-Lima). “Local bans simply create confusion and hardship for retailers operating in multiple jurisdictions.”

Public health advocates, on the other hand, condemned the decision, characterizing it as a victory for the tobacco industry and a setback for public health. They argued that flavored tobacco products, particularly menthol cigarettes, are specifically designed to attract young users and perpetuate addiction.

“This is a dark day for Ohio’s children,” said Emily Walton, spokesperson for the American Lung Association in Ohio. “Flavored tobacco is a gateway to a lifetime of addiction and illness. By taking away the ability of local communities to protect their youth, the Senate has chosen Big Tobacco over the health and well-being of its citizens.”

The fate of flavored tobacco regulation in Ohio now remains uncertain. While the new law prohibits local bans, it doesn’t prevent the state from enacting its own restrictions. DeWine has not commented on whether he plans to pursue such measures.

The decision is likely to be met with legal challenges from both sides of the issue. Anti-tobacco groups might try to overturn the legislation in court, arguing that it violates home rule powers granted to local governments. Meanwhile, the tobacco industry could defend the law against potential state regulations.

With the Ohio Senate’s action, the state joins a growing number of others that have restricted local governments’ ability to regulate flavored tobacco. The move also sets the stage for what could be a protracted legal and political battle over the issue in the months and years to come.

Key points:

  • Ohio Senate overrides DeWine veto, permitting flavored tobacco sales statewide.
  • Public health advocates decry the decision, citing harmful effects on youth.
  • Tobacco industry welcomes move, citing business consistency.
  • Legal challenges and potential state regulations anticipated.
  • Issue joins national debate over local control vs.¬†statewide uniformity.