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6 in 10 Ohio adults favor raising minimum age to buy tobacco to 21; half support increasing tax on cigarettes

Jan 4, 2018

According to the 2017 Ohio Health Issues Poll (OHIP), sponsored by Interact for Health, nearly six in 10 Ohio adults (58 percent) reported that
they favored legislation to raise the minimum legal age to buy tobacco products from 18 to 21. This is slightly more than in 2016, when 53 percent of adults favored such a law.

“Raising the minimum legal age to buy tobacco products is likely to delay young adults from starting to smoke and, in the long run, reduce smoking-related health problems,” explains O’dell Moreno Owens, M.D., M.P.H., President/CEO, Interact for Health. 

A majority of both Democrats and Republicans and just less than half of Independents favored raising the minimum legal age to buy tobacco to 21. Support for this policy varied by smoking status. Six in 10 adults who had never smoked (60 percent) and who used to smoke (61 percent) favored raising the minimum legal age. That compares with about half of adults who were current smokers (50 percent).

Half of Ohio adults support increasing tax on cigarettes

OHIP also asked Ohio adults if they favored or opposed a 65 cent per pack tax increase in the cost of cigarettes, a proposal under consideration at the time of the poll.

More than half of Ohio adults (53 percent) favored a tax increase. About six in 10 Democrats (58 percent) and Republicans (60 percent) and four in 10 Independents (40 percent) favored this increase.

2 in 10 Ohio adults are current smokers, higher than nation

In 2017, 22 percent of Ohio adults reported being current smokers, the same as in 2016. An additional 23 percent were former smokers. This is higher than the 17 percent of adults nationwide who are current smokers, and much higher than the Healthy People 2020 goal of 12 percent.

Interact for Health takes action

Interact for Health has identified reducing tobacco use as a priority to help improve wellness in our region. In honor of the local foundation’s 20th anniversary in October 2017, it awarded 20 grants of $20,000 in each of the 20 counties in the region to organizations working on reducing tobacco use in the region.

The smoking rates in Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana are all higher than the national average, and the rates are significantly higher for low-income and minority populations.

“Historically, tobacco prevention efforts have not been as effectively focused in our poorest communities, which has left huge disparities,” says Dr. Owens. “To move towards the goal of having the healthiest region in the country, we need to reduce tobacco use in every community and in every county.”

More information about Ohioans' views on tobacco policies, and other topics, is available at

About the Ohio Health Issues Poll

The 2017 Ohio Health Issues Poll (OHIP) is funded by Interact for Health. OHIP was conducted June 18 to July 30, 2017, by the Institute for Policy Research at theUniversity of Cincinnati. A random sample of 836 adults from throughout Ohio was interviewed by telephone. This included 430 landline telephone interviews and 406 cell phone interviews. In 95 of 100 cases, statewide estimates will be accurate to ± 3.4%.

There are other sources of variation inherent in public opinion studies, such as nonresponse, question wording, or context effects that can introduce error or bias. For more information about the Ohio Health Issues Poll, please visit

About Interact for Health

Interact for Health builds healthy communities for all people. We serve as a catalyst for health and wellness by promoting healthy living through grants, education, research, policy and engagement. Interact for Health is an independent foundation that serves 20 counties in Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana. More information is available on our website,

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