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Ohio Senate overrides second veto; ban on local bans of flavored tobacco sales to become law

Flavored tobacco on store shelves
Flavored tobacco on store shelves

For the second time in less than a half hour, and the third time since he took office five years ago, Ohio lawmakers have overriden a veto from Gov. Mike DeWine.

Republicans in the Senate voted 24-8 to override DeWine's line-item veto in the two-year budget in July of a provision that banned municipalities from banning sales of flavored tobacco.

Majority Floor Leader Rob McColley (R-Napoleon) said laws that aren't uniform cause problems for business owners operating in multiple jurisdictions.

"Everything regarding building codes and potentially fire codes and different things that they have to comply with, they'll tell you it adds a significant cost to their business," McColley said. "It adds a complexity to their business. And it makes it more difficult for that business to operate."

Sen. George Lang (R-West Chester) said he'd like to crack down on businesses that are selling tobacco illegally to minors. But he said this ban could cost the state and local governments millions in taxes, "not to mention the difficulty we will put on businesses that have different rules from one store on one corner to literally one store potentially owned by the same owner on a different under a different brand right across the street."

Sen. Hearcel Craig (D-Columbus) said allowing municipalities to ban flavored tobacco products can continue "30 years of health improvements in our state" and that "this issue is too serious, is too volatile for our children."

"It is imperative that we emphasize the importance of maintaining local tobacco ordinances and preserving the authority of communities to enact ordinances for their residents," Craig said.

A state-level prohibition on local bans of tobacco sales has raised questions about the home rule power of municipalities. But McColley said supermajority Republicans in the legislature have power they should embrace too.

"If we have the requisite amount of votes to override a veto and the governor, with all due respect to him, decides to veto what we are doing in that legislation, for us to not even consider—and sometimes there may be reasons we wouldn't do it—but for us to not even consider overriding that veto in some cases would be an abdication of our authority, would be minimizing our role in this three branch system of government," McColley said.

It was DeWine's second veto of that idea; he rejected a stand-alone bill prohibiting local regulations on tobacco products.

The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network condemned the override and said in a statement that reads in part: "Instead of offering solutions to address the health of Ohioans, lawmakers have now rolled back existing local laws regulating the sale of tobacco products and limited what local governments can do to prevent people from starting to use tobacco and help people quit. Restricting the freedom of local leaders to pass tobacco control laws that go beyond state law only benefits Big Tobacco."

Contact Karen at 614-578-6375 or at
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