Apr 12, 2024 - News

Ohio cities file lawsuit challenging ban on tobacco regulations

An illustration of a hand holding a cigarette, with the smoke making a "no entry" symbol

Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

Fourteen Ohio cities, including Cleveland, have banded together to challenge a state law that preempts municipalities' ability to regulate tobacco sales.

State of play: Columbus city attorney Zach Klein filed the lawsuit Tuesday in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas.

  • It seeks to block the state law, set to take effect April 23.
  • Cleveland and Cincinnati joined the lawsuit, alongside Oxford and nine Columbus suburbs, including Bexley, where Gov. Mike DeWine resides.

Catch up quick: The City of Columbus banned flavored tobacco products in late 2022, but the Ohio legislature shortly thereafter prohibited municipalities from enforcing tobacco ordinances stricter than state statutes.

What they're saying: "This lawsuit represents a united front in standing up for what is morally right and is an imperative next step to ensure that we are prioritizing the health of Ohioans above profits for the tobacco industry," Mayor Justin Bibb said in a statement.

Zoom in: 35% of adults in Cleveland smoke cigarettes — more than triple the national average.

  • Before the override, Cleveland's Coalition to End Tobacco Targeting and the city's department of public health had been lobbying Cleveland City Council to follow in Columbus' footsteps and ban flavored tobacco and menthol products locally, which disproportionately affect Black smokers.
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