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 in Ohio calls for the following actions to be taken by our elected officials:
- Pass Tobacco 21 laws to increase the minimum age of sale for tobacco products to 21 in additional cities in the state;
- Match the tax on non-cigarette forms of tobacco like spit tobacco, cigars and hookah to the cigarette tax; and
- Increase funding for tobacco prevention and cessation programs.
During the 2017 legislative session, Governor Kasich proposed a 60-cent increase in the tax on cigarettes and other tobacco products. The American Lung Association in Ohio and a broad coalition of partners encouraged the legislature to go even higher and raise the tax by at least $1.00 per pack. Unfortunately, the proposal did not gain much traction in the legislature and an increase in tobacco taxes was not included in the final state budget that was adopted.
The legislature also proposed drastic cuts to funding for tobacco cessation and prevention programs in Ohio. The Lung Association and partners worked to restore those cuts and funding was ultimately maintained at $12.5 million a year.
While increasing the taxes on cigarettes may not be likely to happen in 2018, 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-cigs. 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.
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 June of 2017, the City of Powell became the 8th community in Ohio to pass a Tobacco 21 law. Numerous other cities, such as Cincinnati, Dayton, Delaware, Dublin and Toledo are working towards enacting their own local Tobacco 21 ordinances.
As we look to 2018, the American Lung Association in Ohio will continue to work with a broad coalition of stakeholders to fully fund evidence-based tobacco prevention and cessation programs and pass Tobacco 21 laws in Ohio's cities.