Ohio governor Mike DeWine vetoed House Bill 513 on January 4, 2023. By vetoing the proposed preemption bill, smaller legal groups will be able to enforce stricter tobacco laws throughout the state.
DeWine also reiterated his goal of a statewide flavor ban for tobacco and vape products:
“The easiest way to do this is to have a statewide ban,” DeWine stated in a press conference. “We’ll have uniformity, we’ll remove the issue, and we’ll also protect kids throughout the state.”
The blocking of the preemption bill means that various city councils and other smaller local governments will be able to act under their own discretion when it comes to tobacco and vape control.
One of the main outcomes will be the Columbus flavor ban, which will come into effect on January 1, 2024.
However, it is still possible for the veto to be overridden. This would again prevent the Columbus flavor ban and other similar bans from coming into effect.
Ohio Governor Mike DeWine has revealed plans to potentially veto House Bill (HB) 513. He alluded to this in a recent interview with a local Ohio TV station on December 13, 2022.
HB 513 represents a preemption bill on tobacco laws for the state of Ohio. The bill was revealed only days after Columbus lawmakers approved a city-wide flavor ban, which was sent to DeWine’s desk for signature or veto.
Despite not having an open stance against HB 513, DeWine has stated that the Columbus flavor ban will be helpful for the city.
“Making a decision not to have flavored cigarettes is a logical decision that will save many, many lives and will save taxpayers a lot of money,” DeWine said in an interview with ABC6. “Smoking costs the citizens of Ohio hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars every single year.”
DeWine has been a long-term advocate against smoking and vaping, making the decision to veto the bill unsurprising. However, he has kept his stance on the bill fairly close to the chest.
“Well, there’s the bill that has to do with cigarettes,” DeWine said in a press conference on Thursday. “I’m not going to say what I’m going to do with it, but you might want to go back and look (at) what I did in the U.S. Senate in that area.”
What Is the Preemption Bill?
Preemption is the legal term for when a higher legal body restricts its relevant lower levels from being able to introduce any legislation that is deemed as stricter than said higher body’s current laws.
In the case of HB 513, this means that local bodies like city councils will not be able to enforce stricter vape laws than the existing state laws for Ohio.
This is helpful in unifying the entire state’s legal landscape, particularly in the case of the ever-increasingly complex vaping industry.
“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 states.
The most important aspect of the preemption bill being vetoed or passed is the proposed flavor ban for Columbus, the state capital. The city, along with DeWine, has expressed an interest in a huge flavor ban since 2019.
If DeWine does in fact veto HB 513, it is still possible for lawmakers to override the veto, should there be a three-fifths majority advocating the bill. This will be a critical step in preventing more bans like this from taking effect.
Ohio’s Flavor Bans
This reaction to the preemption bill is certainly not unexpected. DeWine openly called for state lawmakers to introduce a statewide ban on nearly all flavored vape products in 2019.
The only products that would have been exempt from the proposed flavor ban, and now the Columbus ban, would be tobacco-flavored products. Both mint and menthol products would also fall under the said ban.
There has not been much development in terms of a statewide flavor ban as of yet, but Columbus is well on its way to enforcing its own version – should the preemption bill get vetoed or overturned.
However, vetoing the bill would result in Columbus being able to implement the flavor ban, which would take effect at the start of the year 2024.
Given DeWine’s anti-vaping stance, it is more than likely that both the Columbus flavor ban will be signed shortly, and the preemption bill will be vetoed. At that point, all vapers in Columbus can do is hope for the veto to be overturned.
This will also probably represent Ohio’s first steps toward a larger scale flavor ban.
“It’s really a gateway that gets people started, and it makes eminent sense not to have that,” DeWine stated.
This is another clear example that there is a lack of scientific backing behind the decision-making processes in terms of the regulatory process. If DeWine truly wanted to reduce harm, he would enforce cigarette regulations while promoting the use of vapes and e-cigarettes.
The Importance of A Preemption Bill
While it does not seem like the most significant factor in helping the vaping industry, a preemption bill can help vapers in a number of ways.
The first of these is that it obviously prevents certain cities from enforcing their own laws and regulations. This prevents vapers from being prosecuted purely for living in a city that may have somewhat of an agenda against vaping — an ever-increasing issue in the US.
California and Los Angeles are prime examples of just how valuable a preemption bill can be, both in terms of vape advocacy and the legal troubles that come along with allowing cities and local governments to implement their own legislature.
Another one of the biggest positives to the preemption bill is helping prevent unregulated products from entering the market.
If state laws allow vaping products, there is a greater chance of a healthy market surviving. To further this point, it will prevent illicit trade from emerging, which is historically rife with unregulated and often dangerous products.
Ohio Governor Mike DeWine has indicated that he will more than likely veto House Bill 513, a preemption bill for tobacco products within the state. This comes just days after Columbus lawmakers approved a city-wide flavor ban for vaping products – which now sits on the Governor’s desk for approval.
The preemption bill would prevent smaller legal groups like city councils from enforcing stricter laws regarding tobacco and e-cigarettes. With a veto from DeWine, the state capital will all but definitely see a huge flavor ban implemented at the start of 2024.
Thankfully, a city ban means vapers in the area will simply need to look outside of Columbus for their preferred products — until a statewide ban comes into effect, that is.