Ohio House tries more sensible approach to keeping kids off nicotine

Posted on Jan 13, 2024

This week, the Ohio House of Representatives tried a more sensible approach to keeping kids off nicotine than Gov. Mike DeWine’s preference. While DeWine continues to think that tobacco flavoring bans are a brilliant idea, the Ohio House has been trying to put a stop to an effort to institute a patchwork of regulation on the matter between cities, counties, and other localities throughout the state. Instead, state representatives just passed a law beefing up fines on retailers who sell to underage buyers; it would allow retailers to even be shuttered where they are serial offenders:

The Ohio House of Representatives passed House Bill 258 in an 80-6 vote Wednesday. The proposal would increase fines and possibly shut down businesses caught continually selling tobacco products to those younger than 21.


Under current law, individuals who sell tobacco or vaping products to those younger than 21 face up to 30 days in jail and up to a $250 fine for the first offense. Subsequent offenses can lead to up to 60 days in jail and up to a $500 fine.

Under the proposed law, the jail time would not change. The new fines would be:

  • up to $250 for the first offense.
  • up to $500 for the second offense.
  • $500 for the third offense.
  • $1,000 for the fourth offense and
  • $1,500 for the fifth or more offense.

The bill also allows repeat offenders to be labeled a “public nuisance,” which opens the business up to lawsuits and possible closure.

Like the flavorings bill, this one will also require Senate approval– and if not by a veto-proof margin, then also Gov. DeWine’s signature.

Hopefully he will not hold this bill hostage the way he has the bill that would ensure no patchwork quilt of flavoring regulations across the state (though it is noted that Republicans have the numbers in the state Senate to override DeWine’s veto there, too).