1. Match the tax on non-cigarette forms of tobacco like spit tobacco, cigars and hookah to the cigarette tax;
2. Increase funding for tobacco prevention and cessation programs; and
3. Pass Tobacco 21 laws to increase the minimum age of sale for tobacco products to 21 in additional cities in the state.
During the 2016 legislative session, a bill was introduced that would have allowed exemptions for a wide range of businesses under Ohio's Smoke-Free Workplace Act. The American Lung Association in Ohio and partners spoke with legislators and worked to obtain negative media stories about the legislation. Ultimately, the legislation did not get a hearing and made no progress during the legislative session.
The Lung Association worked with coalitions and other interested parties around the state to help move their cities closer to passing laws to increase the minimum sales age for tobacco products to 21 often referred to as Tobacco 21 laws. In 2016, groups in over a dozen cities worked toward passing a Tobacco 21 ordinance in their city. By the end of 2016, seven cities in Ohio, including the cities of Cleveland and Columbus, had passed Tobacco 21 laws. Columbus set up a local licensing system in conjunction with passage of its Tobacco 21 law, which should help with enforcement, and could serve as a good model for other cities to use.
A new poll released around the 10th anniversary of Ohio's Smoke-Free Workplace Act by the American Lung Association in Ohio, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network and the American Heart Association shows that the Smoke-Free Workplace Act islaw continues to be extremely popular among voters. Eighty-five percent of voters indicated they support the law. The same poll also showed that 92 percent of voters supported dedicating funding to programs to prevent tobacco use among kids and help smokers quit.
The 2016 Ohio Health Issues Poll sponsored by Interact for Health found that 53 percent of Ohio adults favored increasing the minimum purchase age for tobacco to 21, including about half of current smokers (51 percent), previous smokers (54 percent), and adults who had never smoked (54 percent). The poll also found high support for the law that prohibited smoking in any public place or place of employment. More than 8 in 10 Ohio adults (82 percent) were in favor of the law. Additionally, the survey found that 2 in 10 Ohio adults (19 percent) reported that they had ever used an e-cigarette. Those who used e-cigarettes included 51 percent of current smokers, 18 percent of former smokers, and 7 percent of adults who have never smoked.
As we look to 2017, the American Lung Association in Ohio will continue to work with a broad coalition of stakeholders to raise the tax on other tobacco products, fully fund evidence-based tobacco prevention and cessation programs, and pass Tobacco 21 laws in Ohio's cities.