Last week, Ohio joined the growing list of states that have raised the age requirement to purchase tobacco from 18 to 21. The “Tobacco 21” law applies to cigarettes, e-cigarettes, and vaping products.
The change in Ohio’s age requirement comes in light of the substantial increase in vaping-related illnesses being reported across the country. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recently stated on its website that there have been an estimated 1,479 lung injury cases associated with e-cigarettes/vaping and a total of 33 deaths. Ohio alone has reported an estimated 32 cases of vaping-related illnesses.
Many believe the change in Ohio’s tobacco law is merely a pretext to address the issue of e-cigarettes being used to consume THC and CBD. Though there is no conclusive evidence that THC is the cause of illnesses resulting from e-cigarette use, there is speculation that it is a leading factor in the outbreak. The CDC website recently stated:
“The latest national and state findings suggest products containing THC, particularly those obtained off the street or from other informal sources (e.g., friends, family members, illicit dealers), are linked to most of the cases and play a major role in the outbreak.”
The rise in e-cigarette use, coupled with states legalizing cannabis, has pushed many states to deal with its secondary effects through enacting legislation similar to Ohio’s. To date, 19 states have raised the minimum age to purchase tobacco. The increase in availability of cannabis across the U.S. will likely drive more states to consider similar legislation.