Governor calls for increased to 21 to purchase tobacco products, e-cigarettes

Ohio Statehouse News

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WDTN) – Governor Mike DeWine and members of his administration are urging the legislature to increase the age to purchase tobacco products and e-cigarette‘s to 21. 

At a news conference today the Ohio Health director and the director of mental health and addiction services shared statistics for how e-cigarette’s could lead to the death of millions of young people down the road. 

One of those statistics is that more than 60% of young people do not realize the liquid used in E cigarettes likely contains nicotine, a highly addictive substance that causes physical dependency. 

Governor DeWine also called out the manufacturers of these products for advertising them in a way that is attractive to young people are using marketing techniques that have been outlawed for the sale of regular cigarettes. 

The administration says raising the age to purchase tobacco products and e-cigarette’s could save millions of Ohioans lives. 

He also says this is not meant to infringe upon the rights of adults in anyway, but to simply delay access to these highly addictive substances. 

Concerns that high school students are using these products in school as well as selling them to each other we’re also raised. 

The makers of Juul released the following statement on the proposal: 

“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. We cannot fulfill our mission to provide the world’s one billion adult smokers with a true alternative to combustible cigarettes, the number one cause of preventable death in this country, if youth-use continues unabated. Tobacco 21 laws fight one of the largest contributors to this problem – sharing by legal-age peers – and they have been shown to dramatically reduce youth-use rates. That is why we will continue to work with lawmakers across the country to enact these effective policies.” 

Not everyone is onboard with the policy shift.  

James Jarvis is the president of Ohio Vapor Trade Association (OHVTA) and he says raising the age is not the right way to go.  

“This product is made by adults, for adults, to solve a problem that adults started when they were underage, so to eliminate that 18-20 year old group from being able to use this product to get off of tobacco, we’re actually doing public health harm,” said Jarvis.  

Jarvis says, when used correctly, vaping is a way to reduce dependency on nicotine and showed us products that step the nicotine levels down from 12mg to 0mg.  

But not everyone uses vaping that way, and that’s part of the problem; once the product is sold, how a person uses it is up to them.  

Still, Jarvis and DeWine are on the same page on a number of issues. For instance, they both do not want the products in the hands of children.  

“We don’t want this getting into the hands of kids, we’re not here for that. We’re here to get adults off of a tobacco problem that they started when they were younger. That’s why we are here, we want to make sure we’re helping not hurting,” said Jarvis.  

They both also take exception to marketing techniques employed by some manufacturers.  

Holding up examples of advertising directed at young people DeWine said, “What we’re seeing today with this, is exactly, exactly what the tobacco companies did for so many, many years, unabated.”  

Jarvis is likewise upset by the trend.  

“We have fought for the industry to make sure that these folks are not being allowed to continue to operate,” said Jarvis. “We don’t want Care Bears on our labels, we don’t want gummy bears on our labels, we want adult marketing.”  

Ultimately though, reducing the age to buy in Ohio may not solve the problem, at least completely.  

“If you go on the internet and you put in vaping product into like Amazon or Ebay and you want to order it, as long as you have a credit card or debit card, you click the little yes button; I mean that’s all it takes,” said Jarivs.  

The decision to raise the age to purchase tobacco products will be made by lawmakers in the next few months.  

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