Ohio Cities Challenge State Tobacco Law

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    The lawsuit filed by fourteen cities in Ohio, including Columbus, Bexley, and Cincinnati, challenges a state law that limits local governments’ ability to enact tobacco control measures stricter than those at the state level. This legal battle, initiated in response to the Ohio legislature’s actions to curb local regulations on flavored tobacco products, reflects a significant tension between state authority and local autonomy.


    In December 2022, the Columbus City Council’s proposal to ban the sale of flavored tobacco products prompted the Republican-controlled Ohio legislature to pass a law preventing such local regulations. Governor Mike DeWine initially vetoed this law, but the legislature circumvented this by including the ban in a budget proposal and ultimately overrode a subsequent veto.

    Legal Challenge

    Columbus, leading the group of cities, filed the lawsuit in Franklin County, arguing that the state law violates their constitutional right to govern local police, health, and safety regulations independently. They contend that this law not only strips them of local governance but also hampers their ability to address public health concerns unique to their communities.

    Current Situation

    The cities are seeking a temporary injunction to stop the enforcement of the state law, set to begin on April 23. Their goal is to preserve local regulatory powers to protect resident health and welfare.


    This legal dispute underscores a broader conflict between state and local governance over regulatory powers and public health initiatives, particularly in the context of tobacco control. The outcome could influence future tobacco legislation and the balance of power between state and local authorities nationwide, highlighting the pivotal role of government levels in shaping public health policies. As the case moves forward, it will likely serve as a key reference point for similar conflicts in other states.