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Very rarely do bills nowadays even touch upon the idea of protecting tobacco, so House Bill 513 (HB513) from Ohio is a notable bill in itself. A majority of the bill deals with tobacco taxes and debts. However, a section of HB513 makes it relevant by affecting other tobacco regulations.
Most of the bill deals with tax collection and how to deal with debts from tobacco tax that have not been collected. When it comes to e-cigarettes, Ohio has a particularly heavy tax. Each bottle of ejuice is taxed at 10 cents per milliliter of juice. That tax adds up quickly and can lead to large tax debts. This bill would help deal with those debts.
Despite taxes being the main focus of the bill, a smaller part of the bill has attracted more attention. The clause of HB513 that is attracting attention is in lines 22 through 27.
“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 wording in that section alone sounds like HB513 was made to protect tobacco product sales. When looking at the bill as a whole, HB513 seems to have been written with a different intention. HB513 could have been a way to make tobacco regulations clearer and provide more guidance on how to deal with state taxes. However, most of the debate around the bill centers around the clause and its effects.
HB513 bans laws that preempt state tobacco regulation, or laws that take place before state tobacco legislation because they are more strict. That is why some people are calling HB513 a preemption bill.
Right now, a few of Ohio’s cities have regulations that are more strict than the state laws. Columbus is a city that has recently passed an ordinance banning all flavored tobacco products. Columbus’s ban is set to start January 2024. Toledo, another city in Ohio, has a ban on flavored cartridges.
If HB513 passed, both of those bans would come into conflict with the bill. State law would take precedence over city law, and HB513 would stop both bans. HB513 would also apply to any future attempts to regulate tobacco products. This means any future laws in Ohio cities could not be as stricter than state laws as well. However, first, HB513 would have to go through the legislative process and become a law.
Right now, HB513 has passed both the Ohio House and Senate. Next, the bill goes to the Governor of Ohio, Governor DeWine. He can approve, veto, or do nothing about the bill.
If Governor DeWine approves HB513 or ignores it for 10 days, HB513 becomes law. If DeWine vetoes the bill, the Ohio Senate and House can try to override his veto. Overriding his veto in the Ohio state government requires a 3/5ths majority vote to override the veto in both houses. Getting a 3/5ths majority for anything is difficult. While an easy majority of the Ohio Senate support the bill, the Ohio House is much closer.
Both anti vaping advocates and pro vaping advocates have begun to take note of the bill. Most anti-vape advocates want to see DeWine veto HB513. Vaping advocates want to see HB513 pass. However, Governor DeWine has stated that he may veto the bill. For most people, there is little to do besides wait for his decision.
HB513 was sent to Governor DeWine’s desk on December 16, 2022. DeWine has 10 days, or until December 26, 2022 to respond to HB513. Given the attention HB513 has received, it is likely to be approved or vetoed before the deadline.
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