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Tobacco Use & Prevention

Tobacco use is the single most preventable cause of disease, disability, and death in the United States, yet more deaths are caused each year by tobacco use than by all deaths HIV, illegal drug use, alcohol use, motor vehicle injuries, suicides, and murders combined. 


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The prevalence of current smoking among Ohio adults has decreased over the past 20 years. Groups for which the prevalence of current smoking was higher in 2016 include those ages 25 to 44, males, those with lower household income and education, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender adults, and those who have a disability or poor mental health.

In 2017, 19.5% of U.S. high school youth reported currently using any tobacco product, including e-cigarettes. Among U.S. high school youth, 8.8% reported currently smoking cigarettes.

Public Health Policy in Ohio 
NEW  Tobacco 21 Law:  
In July 2019, Ohio raised the legal age to buy products containing nicotine from 18 to 21. Raising the smoking age is driven by research showing that people are less likely to become addicted to nicotine if they haven’t started smoking by the time they’ve turned 21.

Raising the legal age to purchase tobacco products also will help keep vaping out of middle schools and high schools, which research shows have seen a huge increase in student vaping in just the past year.

A recent CDC studyfound the number of high-school age youth who reported using e-cigarettes in the past month increased by 78% — from 11.7% of teens in 2017 to 20.8% in 2018. And unpublished data compiled by Ohio State University researchers shows that nearly 28% of incoming OSU freshmen in 2018 said they’d used e-cigarettes within the past month.

According to a 2015 report from the National Academy of Medicine,  if the minimum age were increased to 21 years of age:

  • Tobacco use would decrease by 12 percent by the time today’s teenagers were adults and smoking-related deaths will decrease by 10 percent.
  • Smoking initiation will be reduced by 25 percent for 15-17 year-olds and 15 percent for 18-20 year-olds.
  • Nationwide, it could prevent 223,000 deaths among people born between 2000 and 2019, including 50,000 fewer dying from lung cancer, the nation’s leading cancer killer.
Clean Indoor Air Law: 
There is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke. It causes stroke, lung cancer, and coronary heart disease in adults. Ohio has a comprehensive smoke-free law that prohibits smoking in all indoor areas of workplaces, restaurants, and bars, which has been in effect since 2006.

Since that law was adopted, Ohio has continued to inform efforts to protect residents from exposure to secondhand smoke. 
  • Smoking is prohibited in government workplaces, private workplaces, schools, childcare facilities, restaurants, bars, casinos/gaming establishments, retail stores and recreational/cultural facilities.
  • The use of e-cigarettes is prohibited at the state capitol buildings and in body art establishment rooms used for body art or sterilization procedures.
Tobacco Taxes: 
Ohio is ranked 27th in the U.S. for its cigarette tax of $1.60 per pack (enacted September 2009), compared to the national average of $1.81. (The District of Columbia has the highest tax at $4.50 and Missouri has the lowest at 17 cents.)
  • Little cigars are taxed at a rate of 37% of the wholesale price. Premium cigars are taxed at the lesser of 17% of the wholesale price or 50 cents per cigar, plus a specified tax adjustment factor applied annually. All other tobacco products are taxed at a rate of 17% of the wholesale price.
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