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New Tobacco law goes into effect in Jefferson County

STEUBENVILLE — Ohio’s new Tobacco 21 law takes effect today, raising the age to purchase cigarettes, other tobacco products and alternative nicotine products, such as e-cigarettes and vaping products, from 18 to 21.

It also will become illegal to give such products to people under age 21.

Nicole Balakos, Jefferson County Health Department health commissioner, said, “Changes like this are critical to protecting the health of our youth. If we can keep younger kids from socializing with smokers, it has been shown to deter them from becoming smokers.

The health problems associated with smoking are well documented. The ability to stem the use

of tobacco products will save lives, save money in health care costs and ultimately impact the long term health of Ohioans.”

Gov. Mike DeWine said research indicates that about 95 percent of adult smokers began smoking before they turned 21.

“Evidence suggests that nicotine use during adolescence and young adulthood has long-term impacts on brain development, and tobacco use remains the leading cause of preventable death in the U.S.,” Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Amy Acton said. “Raising the sales age for tobacco and vaping products from 18 to 21 means that those who can legally obtain these products are less likely to be in the same social networks as high school students.”

The types of tobacco and alternative nicotine products covered by the new law include cigarettes; electronic smoking devices such as vapes, e-cigarettes and tanks; cigars; pipe tobacco; chewing tobacco; snuff; snus; dissolvable nicotine products; filters, rolling papers, pipes, blunts or hemp wraps; liquids used in electronic smoking devices, regardless of whether they contain nicotine; and vapor products, including any component, part or additive that is intended for use in an electronic smoking device, a mechanical heating element, battery or electronic circuit used to deliver the product.

Tobacco products and alternative nicotine products do not include nicotine replacement therapy for use when quitting tobacco and other nicotine products.

Balakos said the sales clerk and the owner of any establishment that sells such products to a person under 21 years old will face fines that progress with subsequent offenses. The law requires retailers to post a sign indicating that it is illegal to sell tobacco and alternative nicotine products to anyone under the age of 21.

For a first offense, a misdemeanor of the fourth degree, a clerk is subject to no more than 30 days in jail and a fine up to $250, and the retail establishment is subject to a fine of $2,000, Balakos said.

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