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Tobacco use remains the leading cause of preventable death and disease in the United States and in Ohio. To address this enormous toll, the American Lung Association calls for the following actions to be taken by Ohio's elected officials:

  1. Pass laws to increase the minimum age of sale for tobacco products to 21 at the local or state level;
  2. Match the tax on non-cigarette forms of tobacco like spit tobacco, cigars and hookah to the cigarette tax; and
  3. Increase funding for tobacco prevention and cessation programs to 15 percent of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's recommendation for Ohio.
2019 brings change to Ohio State government. Governor Kasich was term limited and we have a new administration in the governor's office. The American Lung Association in Ohio will work with the new administration in hopes that they will be supportive of tobacco control efforts. Governor Kasich was supportive of increasing the tax on cigarettes and other tobacco products, however, he was unable to get his proposal through the legislature. The Ohio Legislature remains conservative and resistant to tax increases and government mandates, which makes any effort to increase taxes difficult.

While increasing the taxes on cigarettes may not be likely to happen in 2019, the Lung Association will continue to work with our partners to call for parity for taxes on non-cigarette forms of tobacco like spit tobacco, cigars, and e-cigarettes. These tobacco products attract younger, more price sensitive consumers and raising taxes on these products to achieve parity with cigarette taxes can prevent some kids from becoming addicted in the first place.

We also will advocate for an increase in funding for tobacco control and prevention programs. Ohio is currently spending just 11 percent of what is recommended by the Centers for Disease Control for a state of our size. Increasing spending to 15 percent of the CDC recommendation would mean a reasonable increase by about $5.2 million a year. The state is currently experiencing a budget surplus, so the argument can be made that now is the time to invest in the health of our residents.

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 December of 2018, Cincinnati, one of the largest cities in Ohio, became the 17th community in Ohio to pass a Tobacco 21 law. Fourteen other cities, such as Dayton and Toledo are currently working towards enacting their own local Tobacco 21 ordinances in 2019.

As we look to 2019, the American Lung Association in Ohio will continue to work with a broad coalition of stakeholders to increase funding for evidence-based tobacco prevention and cessation programs and pass Tobacco 21 laws in additional cities across Ohio

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