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In Victory for Kids, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine Vetoes Legislation Preempting Local Efforts to End the Sale of Flavored Tobacco Products

Statement of Matthew L. Myers, President, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
January 05, 2023

WASHINGTON, D.C. – By vetoing legislation to preempt local efforts to end the sale of flavored tobacco products, Governor Mike DeWine has taken bold action to protect kids from tobacco addiction, save lives and advance health equity. The Governor deserves enormous credit for standing up to the tobacco industry and supporting local efforts to end the industry’s predatory targeting of kids, Black Americans and other communities with flavored tobacco products. 

We also applaud the Governor’s call today for the Ohio State Legislature to pass a statewide bill ending the sale of all flavored tobacco products. 

Today’s veto will allow the ordinance passed just last month by the Columbus City Council ending the sale of flavored tobacco products – including flavored e-cigarettes, menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars – to take effect early next year.  The new Columbus ordinance will crack down on the tobacco industry’s most pernicious tactic for luring and addicting kids – the marketing of flavored tobacco products. Today’s veto will also allow other local communities across the state of Ohio to move forward in their own efforts to end the sale of flavored tobacco products.

Flavored products have fueled the current epidemic of youth e-cigarette use, with nearly 30% of Ohio high school students currently using e-cigarettes. Nationally, more than 2.5 million kids use e-cigarettes, with a growing percentage of them using e-cigarettes frequently or daily – a sure sign of addiction. And 85% use flavored products.

Flavored products have also been a favorite tobacco industry strategy for targeting kids, Black Americans, Latinos, the LGBTQ community, and other communities. Half of all kids who ever try smoking start with menthol cigarettes. The evidence shows that menthol makes it easier for kids to start smoking and harder for smokers to quit. Because of the tobacco industry’s predatory marketing, 85% of Black smokers now smoke menthol cigarettes, compared to less than 10% in the 1950’s. Menthol cigarettes are a major reason why tobacco use is the number one cause of preventable death among Black Americans – claiming 45,000 lives every year – and why Black Americans have a harder time quitting smoking and are more likely to die from tobacco-related diseases like lung cancer, heart disease and stroke.  

In addition, cheap, flavored cigars – sold in hundreds of flavors like cherry dynamite, tropical twist and chocolate – have flooded the market in recent years and fueled the popularity of these products with kids. The 2022 National Youth Tobacco Survey shows that cigars are the second most popular tobacco product (after e-cigarettes) among all high school students and are especially popular among Black high school students.