COLUMBUS, Ohio — Flavored tobacco products will soon return to store shelves in Columbus and other Ohio cities after state lawmakers overturned Gov. Mike DeWine’s veto of a bill stopping local governments from banning their sale.

What You Need To Know

  • Wednesday, Ohio Senators voted to overturn Gov. Mike DeWine's veto of a bill banning local governments from prohibiting flavored tobacco sales within city limits

  • In about 90 days, cities like Columbus will no longer have authority to stop retailers from selling flavored tobacco products 

  • DeWine called teens smoking and vaping a "public health crisis" in Ohio

This comes just weeks after citywide prohibitions of the products took effect at the start of the year.

According to DeWine, the sale of flavored tobacco is leading to a new generation of Ohio kids getting addicted to nicotine.

“We have a crisis, a public health crisis with children in the state of Ohio,” he said.

He called the recent votes by lawmakers in both chambers of the Statehouse are a win for tobacco companies and a loss for kids.

“We have one in five of our high school children who are vaping,” DeWine said. “One in ten of our middle school children in Ohio who are vaping. And what is sucking them in is the flavors.”

Flavored tobacco products are currently banned in Columbus following a unanimous vote by the city council. Nya Hairston, deputy director in the office of communications for Columbus City Council, issued a statement following the override of the governor’s veto:

“Columbus City Council is outraged but not surprised that Statehouse Republicans once again chose politics over people. With this decision, they undermine local elected officials’ right and responsibility to pass legislation that protects our residents.

Preempting local regulations on flavored tobacco products erases the progress Columbus has made toward eliminating our youth’s usage of such substances. It allows massive corporations that profit off of addiction to continue targeting communities of color and other at-risk groups. 

While Statehouse Republicans remain complicit in the proliferation of health disparities created by historic racist policies like redlining, the fight continues. City Council is committed to righting the wrongs of the past, whether that is by restricting the sale of flavored tobacco, implementing gun safety legislation, or creating access to quality housing.”

Columbus Public Health agreed, issuing its own statement:

“We are deeply disappointed with the Senate’s decision to once again choose politics over health in its override of the governor’s veto to ban flavored tobacco in our community. This decision does not protect the health and safety of our community. Instead, it puts flavored tobacco back into the hands of children for a lifetime of addiction. It also will prevent us from enforcing Tobacco 21 and other laws that are already on the books to protect their health. As a result, it will negatively impact the health of youth and people of color who have been unfairly targeted by big tobacco companies for decades. It is simply unacceptable. Despite this setback, we will continue to work with the City Attorney to explore all options so we can protect the health and safety of our community from the dangers and lifelong health impacts of tobacco.”

Meanwhile, Senate President Matt Huffman (R) said state legislators plan to work with the tobacco industry and governor to try to develop a compromise over the next few weeks.

“The irony that we’re allowed to purchase marijuana anywhere we want in the state, but menthol and some of these other products are not the same,” he said. “So there needs to be some consistent statewide strategy.”

The law is set to take effect in 90 days.