GREENVILLE — Today marks day one of changes to the age requirements for tobacco purchases in Ohio.
As part of House Bill 166, signed by Governor Mike DeWine in July, the age for legal tobacco purchase (or receiving) will move from 18 to 21. The bill also modifies the definition of a tobacco product to anything derived from tobacco, or that contains any form of nicotine. The methods smoked, chewed, heated, dissolved, inhaled, or ingested along with any component such as filters, rolling papers, pipes, and liquids used in electronic smoking devices.
The bill also includes vapor products or electronic smoking devices. The latter changed from “electronic cigarette” to include any device that delivers aerosolized or vaporized nicotine.
Governor DeWine recently announced a long-term effort to curb youth vaping and is supporting a legislative push to ban flavored e-cigarette products.
As previously reported, the health problems and dangers of vape or e-cigarette products have made recent headlines, in particular, concerns surrounding its usage by youth.
Vape products contain high amounts of nicotine. They are particularly harmful and addicting to youth and young adults when their brains are still in development. Nicotine slows brain development and affects concentration and learning, irritates the lungs, and may cause significant lung damage.
The Franklin Monroe School District installed several vape detectors in school restrooms last month. It was part of an effort to deter students who believe that vapes or e-cigarettes are “a safe alternative” to traditional tobacco products.
While an update to school policies related to tobacco products are only in the second reading, the Greenville School District anticipates approval next month.
Greenville City Schools Superintendent Doug Fries encourages everyone to work together to get the word out on the danger of vaping and its effects.
“The school, parents, and community need to work together to communicate this message to our students and young adults,” continued Fries. He shared that the message is being communicated to the district from the Ohio Department of Health and local health officials. “The law on vaping is being pushed through for a reason to keep everyone safe. Everyone’s health is important.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control, in 2017, 19.5 percent of U.S. high school youth reported current usage of any tobacco product.
For some area businesses, the new age requirements will require only a few changes and updates. Those updates include clear, visible signage that will indicate the new legal age for receiving or purchasing cigarettes and any other tobacco products and alternative nicotine products.
Ohio will be one of 18 states that have raised the legal age to purchase and receive tobacco and tobacco-related products. Cincinnati already took an initiative to raise the legal age to 21 within city limits in December 2018.