Governor strengthens new law that already raises Ohio smoking age to 21

CLEVELAND - Governor Mike DeWine signed as part of the state budget a provision that will make Ohio the 18th state to put its legal smoking age at 21.

Governor DeWine also used his line-item veto power to eliminate a section of the new law that would have "grandfathered" in people who are now between the ages of 18 and 21.

The law that come to DeWine would have allowed that group to continue to buy tobacco products legally.

But DeWine changed that provision. So now, immediately, anyone who is under 21 will not be able to legally buy any tobacco products - including e-cigarettes.

"It's the right thing to do," DeWine said at an afternoon news conference.

The governor said he is alarmed by research that suggests the possibility that more teens may be starting on vaping products and then transitioning to cigarettes.

The American Cancer Society supports the change, but says the rules that follow the new law must have some teeth in them regarding holding retailers accountable.

"Just changing the age from 18 to 21 won't do it," said Jeff Stephens of the American Cancer Society.

The change in the law is expected to cost Ohio about $20 million in lost cigarette taxes.

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