Budget Proposes Raising Tobacco Buying Age To 21, But That Comes With A Cost

Apr 3, 2019

Gov. Mike DeWine’s proposed budget includes a provision that would bring the state less revenue – but it’s not a tax cut.

DeWine's budget would raise the age for those who want to buy cigarettes and tobacco products from 18 to 21 statewide.

That would cut down on the numbers of young people who start smoking, said Ohio Department of Health Director Amy Acton.

But she said it could also help with infant mortality among young mothers, and could stop huge increases in the use of electronic cigarettes.

“From the National Youth Tobacco Survey: there has been a 78 percent increase in use of high school students in the past year, 48 percent increase in middle school students," Acton said.

And she also notes a somewhat surprising poll from the Centers for Disease Control: “7 out of 10 smokers feel that the age should be raised to 21.”

The state estimates it will lose nearly $40 million in revenue by raising the age. But Acton said billions are spent nationally each year on smoking related illness.