Governor Mike DeWine today vetoed HB 513, the bill that would have prevented local Ohio governments from passing tobacco and vaping laws stricter than Ohio state laws. DeWine called a press conference to announce the veto, and used his pulpit to denounce the role of flavored e-cigarettes in the youth vaping “epidemic.”
DeWine also suggested he would support a statewide ban on flavored products, which he has done (unsuccessfully) before. “The easiest way to do this is to have a statewide ban,” DeWine said at his press conference. “We’ll have uniformity, we’ll remove the issue, and we’ll also protect kids throughout the state.”
The preemption bill was passed on Dec. 15, 2022, in the final days of the 2022 legislative session—soon after the city of Columbus passed an ordinance banning sales of flavored vaping and tobacco products. The state bill would have reversed the Columbus flavor ban and a ban on flavored pre-filled cartridges already in place in Toledo. The Columbus flavor ban will take effect Jan. 1, 2024.
For unknown reasons, the preemption bill was not sent by the Assembly to the governor’s desk until near the end of the year—well after the Dec. 22 adjournment of the legislative session. By waiting to veto until the previous legislature completed business, DeWine may have found a loophole to avoid override by the General Assembly.
DeWine says it’s clear that young people are using flavored tobacco as a gateway to vaping/smoking, citing a study showing 2/3 of kids using tobacco said they do because it comes in flavors they like, including menthol. Dewine says smoking costs the state $1.85 billion annually.
— Karen Kasler (@karenkasler) January 5, 2023
The governor’s office believes a newly seated legislature cannot initiate a veto override of a bill passed in a previous session, according to Ideastream Public Media reporter Karen Kasler.
It isn’t yet known if Republican leadership in the Assembly will pursue an override.
The preemption bill, HB 513, states that “No political subdivision may enact, adopt, renew, maintain, enforce, or continue in existence any charter provision, ordinance, resolution, rule, or other measure that conflicts with or preempts any policy of the state regarding the regulation of tobacco products or alternative nicotine products.”
The bill was opposed by anti-vaping and anti-tobacco groups and public health organizations across the state, who lobbied DeWine for a veto from the moment the bill passed.
Previous versions of this story contained additional detail on confusion surrounding the date of the bill’s receipt by the governor, and speculation about whether he would veto.