Policy Tip Sheet: Tobacco Harm Reduction 101: Ohio

Published January 10, 2020

Since their introduction to the U.S. market in 2007, e-cigarettes and vaping devices—tobacco harm reduction products that are 95 percent safer than combustible cigarettes—have helped more than three million American adults quit smoking.

1. Economic Impact
According to the Vapor Technology Association, in 2018, the industry created 3,930 direct vaping-related jobs, including manufacturing, retail and wholesale jobs in Ohio, which generated $114 million in wages alone.[1]   Moreover, the industry has created hundreds of secondary jobs in Ohio, bringing the total economic impact in 2018 to $907,464,600. In the same year, Ohio received more than $57 million in state taxes attributable to the vaping industry. These figures do not include sales in convenience stores, which sell vapor products including disposables and prefilled cartridges. In 2016, sales of these products in Ohio eclipsed $27.9 million.[2]

2. State Health Department Data
As of January 9, 2020 the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) has reported 92 cases of vaping-related lung illnesses.[3] The age of patients ranges from 15 to 65 years, with a median age of 25 years, and 68 percent of patients are male. Although other state health departments are providing information on substances vaped, ODH is not providing this data. This is alarming because many state health departments have already linked vaping-related lung illnesses to the use of products containing tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and provided this information in their own updates. The Heartland Institute gives ODH a grade of F for information available on vaping-related lung illnesses.

3. More Information Needed
The most recent report on youth tobacco use in Ohio comes from the draft report of the 2016-2017 Ohio Health Youth Environments Survey (OHYES!).[4] According to those results, during 2016 and 2017, only 1.38 percent of Ohio students in grades 7th through 12th, reported using e-cigarettes every day in the past 30 days. Further, more than 90 percent of respondents reported not using any vaping product. More data is needed to understand the effects of public health campaigns on youth e-cigarette use.

4. Youth Sales Miniscule
From January 1, 2018 to September 30, 2019, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) administered 16,705 tobacco age compliance inspections in Ohio, in which the agency used a minor in an attempt to purchase tobacco products.[5] Of those, only 3,709 or 22 percent, resulted in a sale to a minor. Of the violations, 243 (6 percent of violations and 1 percent of all compliance checks) involved the sale of e-cigarettes or vaping devices. The number of violations involving sales of cigars and cigarettes were 2,596 and 634, respectively, during the same period.

5. Misspent Money
In 2019, Ohio received an estimated $1.2925 billion in tobacco taxes and tobacco settlement payments. In the same year, the state spent only $13 million, or 1 percent, on funding tobacco control programs, including education and prevention.[6] Ohio invests $1.25 per smoker in the state’s quit line, less than the national average of $2.21 per smoker. 


Policy Solution
Electronic cigarettes and vaping devices have proven to be tremendous tobacco harm reduction tools, helping many smokers transition away from combustible cigarettes. Despite recent fearmongering, their use is significantly safer than traditional cigarettes, as noted by numerous public health groups including the Royal College of Physicians,[7] Public Health England,[8] and the American Cancer Society.[9] Rather than restricting their use, and undoubtedly reducing public health gains and millions of dollars in economic output, lawmakers should dedicate existing tobacco funds on programs that actually reduce youth use.


Key Points:
1. Ohio’s vaping industry provided more than $900 million in economic activity in 2018 while generating 3,930 vaping-related jobs. Sales of disposables and prefilled cartridges in Ohio exceeded $27.9 million in 2016.

2. As of January 9, 2020, ODH has reported 92 cases of vaping-related lung illness. ODH does not provide information on substances vaped. ODH earns an F-ranking for its reporting on vaping-related lung illnesses.

3. During 2016-2017, only 1.38 percent of Ohio high school students reported using e-cigarettes daily. More data is needed.

4. Only 1 percent of FDA retail compliance checks in Ohio resulted in sales of e-cigarettes to minors from January 1, 2018 to September 30, 2019.

5. Ohio spends very little on tobacco prevention. In 2019, Ohio dedicated only $13 million on tobacco control, or 1 percent of what the state received in tobacco settlement payments and taxes.







[1] Vapor Technology Association, “The Economic Impact of the Vapor Industry OHIO,” 2019, https://vta.guerrillaeconomics.net/reports/c555ad4d-d70c-48b4-b824-82cc9e06fe4c?.

[2] Teresa W. Wang et al., “National and State-Specific Unit Sales and Prices for Electronic Cigarettes, United States, 2012-2016,” Preventing Chronic Disease, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, August 2, 2018, https://www.cdc.gov/pcd/issues/2018/17_0555.htm.

[3] Ohio Department of Health, “Ohio Vaping Investigation Update,” Severe Pulmonary Illness Linked to Vaping, January 9, 2020, https://odh.ohio.gov/wps/portal/gov/odh/know-our-programs/tobacco-use-prevention-and-cessation/news-and-events/. Accessed January 9, 2020.

[4] Ohio Department of Health, “All OHYES! Report of 2016-2017 DRAFT report,” January 2019, https://ohyes.ohio.gov/Portals/0/assets/Results/All_OHYES_Report_2016-2017_DRAFT_3-5-2019.pdf.

[5] U.S. Food and Drug Administration, “Compliance Check Inspections of Tobacco Product Retailers,” September 30, 2019, https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/oce/inspections/oce_insp_searching.cfm.

[6] Truth Initiative, “Tobacco use in Ohio,” June 28, 2019, https://truthinitiative.org/research-resources/smoking-region/tobacco-use-ohio-2019.

[7] Royal College of Physicians, Nicotine without Smoke: Tobacco Harm Reduction, April 2016, https://www.rcplondon.ac.uk/projects/outputs/nicotinewithout-smoke-tobacco-harm-reduction-0.

[8] A. McNeill et al., “Evidence review of e-cigarettes and heated tobacco products 2018,” Public Health England, February 2018, https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/684963/Evidence_review_of_e-cigarettes_and_heated_tobacco_products_2018.pdf.

[9] The American Cancer Society, “What Do We Know About E-Cigarettes?” June 19, 2019,  https://web.archive.org/web/20190806152535/https://www.cancer.org/cancer/cancer-causes/tobacco-and-cancer/e-cigarettes.html.


For more information, please refer to:

Tobacco Harm Reduction 101: A Guidebook for Policymakers
This booklet from The Heartland Institute aims to inform key stakeholders on the much-needed information on the benefits of electronic cigarettes and vaping devices. Tobacco Harm Reduction 101 details the history of e-cigarettes, including regulatory actions on these products. The booklet also explains the role of nicotine, addresses tax policy and debunks many of the myths associated with e-cigarettes, including assertions about “popcorn lung,” formaldehyde, and the so-called youth vaping epidemic.


Nothing in this Policy Tip Sheet is intended to influence the passage of legislation, and it does not necessarily represent the views of The Heartland Institute. For further information on this and other topics, visit the Budget & Tax News website, The Heartland Institute’s website, and PolicyBot, Heartland’s free online research database.

The Heartland Institute can send an expert to your state to testify or brief your caucus; host an event in your state; or send you further information on a topic. Please don’t hesitate to contact us if we can be of assistance! If you have any questions or comments, contact Heartland’s government relations department, at [email protected] or 312/377-4000