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Ohio Cities and States Are Still Fighting Over the Tobacco Veto Override!


In a significant political development, Ohio House Republicans have moved to override Governor Mike DeWine’s veto on legislation aimed at preventing cities from regulating flavored tobacco. This decision is a pivotal moment in the ongoing conflict between state authority and municipal governance, particularly with public health and safety measures.

This legislative move comes against the backdrop of increasing tobacco use among youth. According to the American Cancer Society, tobacco consumption among children and teenagers has seen a worrying uptick over the past five years.

Leo Almeida, the government relations director for the organization’s Cancer Action Network, underscored the gravity of the situation, stating that “259,000 children in Ohio today are at risk of dying prematurely from smoking-related diseases.”

Cleveland Mayor Justin Bibb has been vocal about the devastating impact of tobacco, particularly in African-American communities. “It’s killing Black Clevelanders at an alarming rate,” Bibb remarked, emphasizing the need for proactive measures. Despite these concerns, the state legislature’s actions have been a stumbling block for local authorities seeking to implement specific health policies.

Tobacco Fight Timeline

Ohio Cities and States Are Still Fighting Over the Tobacco Veto Override!

Dec. 12, 2022: It was decided by the Columbus City Council that flavored tobacco products would no longer be sold.

Dec. 14, 2022: Republicans in Ohio added a clause to a bill about tobacco taxes that says no city or town can regulate the use and sales of cigarettes, vapes, and other e-cigarettes. The main reason for this, according to State Rep. Jon Cross (R-Findlay), was Columbus.

Jan. 5, 2023: Gov. DeWine turned down the bill. “When a local community wants to decide to ban these flavors to protect their children, we should applaud those decisions,” he said.

Feb. 6, 2023: The Cleveland City Council put forward a law to ban the sale of flavored tobacco goods. For years, News 5 has talked about the fight against tobacco and how it has affected Cleveland.

June 30, 2023: The budget for FY 24–25 was finally approved. The GOP again sneaked a part into the budget bill that makes it illegal for towns to regulate tobacco.

July 4, 2023: Again, DeWine turned down the tobacco control ban.

Dec. 13, 2023: Republicans in the House voted to reverse the veto from the governor.

Present time

At the heart of this issue is the principle of municipal home rule. This doctrine, enshrined in Ohio’s constitution, allows cities and villages to exercise self-governance and create laws, provided they do not conflict with the state’s Ohio Revised Code. Mayor Bibb and other local leaders argue that the state’s recent actions infringe upon this right, particularly concerning public health initiatives.

Ohio Cities and States Are Still Fighting Over the Tobacco Veto Override!

House Speaker Jason Stephens, supporting the state-level decision, argued that issues like these should be governed by statewide policies to ensure uniformity and continuity. The state’s approach, as Stephens suggests, includes measures like imposing stricter penalties on stores selling tobacco products to minors.

Representative Cross, reflecting on the original bill passed in December 2022, highlighted the importance of free market principles and the potential dangers of government overreach in personal choices regarding consumption.

Home rule fight

This conflict extends beyond tobacco regulation. News 5’s statehouse reporter Morgan Trau noted a pattern in Ohio’s legislative decisions, often favoring rural areas while restricting urban municipalities in matters like abortion rights and green energy projects.

Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther and Cincinnati Mayor Aftab Pureval also voiced concerns over the state’s interference in local governance, citing public safety and health challenges, including gun violence and vaping.

The Senate’s upcoming consideration of the veto override in late January will be a crucial next step in this ongoing struggle. It remains to be seen whether the state will maintain its stance or yield to the pleas of city leaders advocating for more autonomy to protect their communities, particularly the youth, from the harmful effects of tobacco.

Ohio Cities and States Are Still Fighting Over the Tobacco Veto Override!


this conflict over tobacco regulation in Ohio exemplifies a broader struggle for authority between state and city governments. It raises fundamental questions about the balance of power, public health priorities, and the role of government in regulating personal behavior. As this issue unfolds, it will likely have significant implications for the governance and health policies not just in Ohio, but potentially in other states facing similar dilemmas.

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