Statewide “Tobacco 21” begins to take effect

By Joseph Cotton | Staff Writer

Ohio’s “Tobacco 21” law went into effect on Thursday. The law bans the sale of nicotine products to those under the age of 21 statewide. Ohio is the 18th state to pass the law. Xavier became “tobacco free” on July 1.

On Thursday, Ohio’s “Tobacco 21” law went into effect, banning the sale of nicotine products to those under the age of 21 statewide. The bill was signed by Governor Mike DeWine on July 18. Ohio joins 17 other states and Washington, D.C., in adopting “Tobacco 21” legislation.

The age restriction applies to traditional tobacco products such as cigarettes, cigars and pipe tobacco as well as electronic nicotine delivery systems, including e-cigarettes and tanks.

The restriction doesn’t apply to nicotine replacement therapy products, such as nicotine patches, that are designed to be used when quitting nicotine products.

Unless with a parent or guardian, it is illegal for people under the age of 21 to possess or use nicotine products.

The enacted law also does not include a “grandfather” clause which would exempt those who turned 18 before the law went into effect from the ban. Governor DeWine removed this provision from the original bill via a line-item veto.

The penalty for clerks who sell restricted nicotine products to those under the age of 21 is a fourth degree misdemeanor, which carries a maximum sentence of 30 days in jail and a fine of up to $250 for a first offence. Retailers are subject to a fine of up to $2,000. Retailers are also required to post signs outside of their buildings indicating that it is illegal to sell tobacco and alternative nicotine products to anyone under the age of 21. Workers under the age of 21 will still be able to handle nicotine products as a function of their employment.

“I support (Tobacco 21),” sophomore Mathew Dixon said. “Nicotine is a natural pesticide so we probably shouldn’t be putting that anywhere near us.” When asked about the severity of the punishments, Dixon went on to say he thought they were excessive.

“I can see them putting the punishment that high to deter people, but a misdemeanor seems like overkill.”

The law will be enforced by unannounced compliance checks through a third-party. The checks will be carried out by trained underage youth and young adults that will attempt to purchase tobacco products.

Advocates of the law see it as an effort to reduce the rates of nicotine consumption among high schoolers, specifically the 15 to 17-year-old demographic.

“Raising the sales age for tobacco and vaping products from 18 to 21 means that those who can legally obtain these products are less likely to be in the same social networks as high school students,” Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Amy Acton stated.

Acton went on to say that nicotine use during adolescence and young adulthood has long-term impacts on brain development.

“(Tobacco 21 isn’t a good thing) because it’s pretty restrictive,” sophomore Jacob Battaglino said. “I think the people who have already turned 18 should still be able to buy.” However, he went on to say that he believes overall the law will have good effects by preventing high schoolers from getting vape pens.

On July 1, Xavier University adopted a “smoke, tobacco and nicotine free” policy. According to the policy, the use of any tobacco product or nicotine delivery system on campus is prohibited