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Ohio Republicans put smoking-related ban in budget, but cut funds for quitting programs

Flavored vaping products displayed at a press conference with Gov. Mike DeWine in 2019.
Karen Kasler
Statehouse News Bureau
Flavored vaping products displayed at a press conference with Gov. Mike DeWine in 2019.

One-fifth of Ohioans smoke, and the state’s smoking rate is the fourth highest in the country, though it has dropped in recent years. Republicans who created the Senate’s budget are trying a tactic they say will keep kids from picking up the habit, but anti-tobacco advocates aren’t so sure.

The Senate budget bans flavored vaping products, but not flavored tobacco or menthols. Anti-smoking advocates are frustrated the Senate’s budget has only around $7 million for smoking cessation programs.

"The state gets around $1.2 billion per year from the [national] tobacco settlement money and tobacco taxes," said Leo Almeida with the American Cancer Society in Ohio. "The governor proposed $20 million for this line item per year, and that's what we supported. The Senate has cut that significantly."

When asked why there wasn't more funding for those smoking cessation programs, Senate Finance Committee chair Matt Dolan (R-Chagrin Falls) said the funding reflects what those programs have spent in recent budgets. And he added that combining those programs "and the ban and other ways, we think those are things that will help smoking cessation."

Smoking is estimated to cost Ohio $6.56 billion in direct health care costs per year, and $1.85 billion of that comes from Medicaid, Almeida said. Ohio households, he said, pay an average of $1,100 in state and federal taxes on smoking-related health care costs.

In January, Gov. Mike DeWine called for a statewide ban on flavored vapes and flavored tobacco when he vetoed a Republican-passed bill banning cities from outlawing those products.

The states with the highest smoking rates, according to the most recent statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, are West Virginia (23.8%), Kentucky (23.6%), Louisiana (21.9%) and Ohio (20.8%).

Contact Karen at 614-578-6375 or at
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