Ohio Cities File Lawsuit Challenging State Law Stripping Local Tobacco Regulations

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Filing a lawsuit on Wednesday, Columbus City Attorney Zach Klein is leading a legal challenge against a recently passed state law that aims to strip away the authority of cities in Ohio to regulate the sale of tobacco products at the local level. This lawsuit is supported by 13 other Ohio cities, including Bexley, Cincinnati, and Cleveland.

The ban, which is scheduled to take effect on April 23, was approved after lawmakers overrode the governor’s veto of the legislation earlier this year. Under the newly enacted law, Ohio cities would no longer have the power to establish or enforce any regulations related to the sale of tobacco products.

The group of cities is seeking a temporary restraining order and a preliminary injunction through this lawsuit in an attempt to halt the implementation of the new law. Their argument is based on the claim that the state’s law violates the home rule provisions outlined in the Ohio Constitution and poses a threat to public health, particularly among teenage and minority populations.

According to Klein, “Stripping cities of their right to make decisions in the interest of residents isn’t just unconstitutional, it’s bad policy that harms public health and undermines the progress we’ve made to reduce tobacco usage and keep these products out of the hands of teens.”

This legal action comes as cities across Ohio express their concerns about the potential negative consequences of the state law. Advocates argue that local governments are better equipped to address the unique needs and challenges of their communities, including tobacco regulation. By impeding the ability of cities to enact their own measures, it is feared that this law will hinder efforts to protect public health and limit the accessibility of tobacco products to vulnerable populations.

Furthermore, opponents argue that the state law’s interference with local control is a violation of the principles of home rule. The concept of home rule grants local governments the authority to govern themselves and make decisions in the best interest of their residents, as long as they do not conflict with state law.

As the lawsuit progresses, advocates are hopeful that the court will recognize the importance of preserving the autonomy of local governments to regulate tobacco products and maintain public health. By standing up against this state law, the cities involved in the lawsuit aim to protect the health and safety of their residents, particularly the most vulnerable members of their communities.