GREENE COUNTY — A new tobacco law went into effect Oct. 17 statewide, raising the age to purchase tobacco products from 18 to 21.
In July 2019, Gov. Mike DeWine signed an updated state budget which changed the purchase age requirement under the Tobacco 21 law.
According to Greene County Public Health (GCPH) officials, the sale of cigarettes, other tobacco products, electronic cigarettes, alternative nicotine products, or papers used to roll cigarettes to any person under 21 is now prohibited. In addition, all retailers of tobacco and nicotine products are required to post a sign in a conspicuous place stating the new legal purchase age of 21. The required sign is available online at www.OhioTobacco21.gov.
GCPH, as well as local law enforcement and the Ohio Department of Health, said they will work with all retailers within Greene County limits to ensure compliance. Tobacco and nicotine retailers that do not comply with the Tobacco 21 ordinance risk citations.
The goal of Tobacco 21 is to reduce the rates of tobacco and nicotine usage among young people to improve health and save lives, officials say. GCPH cites that nearly all adult smokers began smoking by the age of 18 and less than 5 percent of adult smokers start smoking after age 21.
“Nicotine and e-cigarettes are especially harmful to young people, who are more prone to addiction. Nationwide, we know that vaping prevalence increased by 38 percent between 2017 and 2018. If left unchecked, the vaping epidemic will ensure that another generation of Ohioans will suffer the often-deadly consequences of tobacco use and nicotine addiction,” GCPH officials said in a release.
Community support is strong for the Tobacco 21 initiative. More than 75 percent of people surveyed in Greene County agreed that the age to buy tobacco products including e-cigarettes should be raised to 21. Nationwide surveys showed the same result at 75 percent.
Ohio joins 17 other states and Washington, D.C. that have already passed state-wide Tobacco 21 laws. Raising the legal age to 21 has been shown to reduce high school smoking rates by more thabn 50 percent by putting access outside the social circle of most high school students.
My Life, My Quit at www.mylifemyquit.com is a free and confidential service for teens under 18 who want help quitting all forms of tobacco, including vaping. Teens will participate in five one-on-one coaching sessions, where a coach helps teens develop a quit plan, identify triggers, practice refusal skills and receive ongoing support for changing behaviors. This program is available via phone calls, text messaging, or online chat.
Pregnant women who need help quitting tobacco can enroll in the Baby and Me Tobacco Free program through GCPH. Mothers (and partners) who stay smoke free after the baby is born can receive monthly vouchers for free diapers for up to 12 months. Call Nancy at 937-374-5679 for more information.
Another option for help kicking tobacco is Ohio’s Tobacco Outline. All Ohioans are now eligible for this free service. Residents can call 1-800-QUIT-NOW log onto ohio.quitlogix.org for personalized quit coaching and free nicotine replacement therapy after the first four sessions.