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Governor’s veto allows Ohio communities to regulate tobacco

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Ohio’s capital city can keep its ban on sales of flavored tobacco products, after Republican Gov. Mike DeWine vetoed a bill on Thursday that would have put such regulation in the hands of the state instead of local communities.

The measure, passed by the GOP-led Ohio Legislature in December, had said regulating tobacco and alternative nicotine products should be up to the state, not municipalities. It would have prevented communities from voting to restrict things like smoking, e-cigarettes and sales of flavored vaping products.

The provision came before the state Senate just days after the city of Columbus announced it would prohibit sales of flavored tobacco products.

The veto wasn’t a surprise from DeWine, who fought for regulation of tobacco products in his time as a U.S. senator, especially to protect children from becoming addicted to nicotine products.

“We’re dealing now with young people’s lives, and when a local community wants to make a decision … to protect their children, we should applaud those decisions,” he said Thursday.

Advocates from anti-tobacco organizations and the American Cancer Society said the vetoed bill would have given more power to the tobacco industry and harmed Ohioans, especially children susceptible to advertising efforts such as those for flavored tobacco products.

Democrats also called the measure a stripping of home rule, saying it violated Ohio’s Constitution by not allowing local communities to govern themselves.

Republican Senate President Matt Huffman argued tobacco sales are a statewide issue because the restriction of them would affect income of the state as a whole.

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