Enforcing New ‘Tobacco 21’ Law

Laws are effective only when they are enforced. That needs to be remembered regarding a new state statute in Ohio.

For years, it was legal for Buckeye State retailers to sell tobacco products to customers 18 years of age and older. The new “Tobacco 21” law raises the limit to 21 — and makes it illegal to give tobacco products to those under that age.

Cigarettes, cigars, pipe tobacco, smokeless tobacco and nicotine products including electronic cigarettes are covered by the law. Inclusion of e-cigarettes is vital because of their popularity among minors. Studies indicate that 20% of American high school students are regular users of “vaping” devices.

We know from experience with the 18-and-under ban that minors will continue to have access to tobacco products and other nicotine delivery items. That makes it especially important that both local and state law enforcement agencies make enforcing the new statute a priority.

The e-cigarette industry already has had several years to hook youthful customers on its far-from-safe products. The sooner Ohioans make a serious effort to fight back against that, the better.