The Columbus, Ohio City Council voted Monday to prohibit sales of flavored vaping products and tobacco, making it one of just a few major cities between the east and west coasts to do so. The flavor ban passed unanimously (7-0), despite strong opposition from vaping businesses and other local retailers.
The ordinance will take effect Jan. 1, 2024, assuming Mayor Andrew Ginther approves it. He has already indicated strong support for the law.
The new ordinance bans sales of all flavored vaping products—with or without nicotine—as well as other low-risk flavored products like nicotine pouches and snus. It also bans flavored combustible tobacco products, including menthol cigarettes. There is an exemption for hookah tobacco consumed inside licensed hookah bars.
The bill was promoted by the Coalition to End Tobacco Targeting, an astroturf group created and funded by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids’ lobbying arm. TFK’s involvement will be familiar to vaping advocates from most cities or states that have faced recent flavor ban attempts.
The Coalition ran the process from beginning to end—setting the agenda, controlling the message, disseminating facts and figures, and encouraging the local news outlets, city health department, schools, churches and community groups to view the group as a helpful partner.
With a population of over 900,000 residents, Columbus is the largest city in Ohio (the seventh-most populous state). It is the state capital, and home to Ohio State University and six Fortune 500 companies.