State Agencies | Online Services

Federal Laws and Information: Historic Tobacco Milestones

  • 1964: Landmark Report from U.S. Surgeon General outlining the health risks related to tobacco use. Termed one of the greatest achievements in public health in the 20th century, adult smoking rate percentages have been reduced by half to date.
  • 1998: Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement from federal lawsuit against the largest U.S. tobacco companies by attorney generals from 46 states (including Ohio), seeking recovery of tobacco-related health costs for Medicaid patients. In the agreement, manufacturers agreed to cease certain marketing practices, and pay, in perpetuity, annual payments to the states (estimated to be a minimum of $206 billion during the first 25 years of the agreement). Read about the Buckeye Tobacco Settlement Financing Authority.               
  • 2009: The Federal Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act provides the Food and Drug Administration with extensive power to:
    • Regulate the sale of tobacco products to minors (under the age of 18)
    • Require manufacturers to eliminate misleading labels (“light”, “mild”)   
    • Regulate the sale and marketing of all products (including smokeless tobacco).
    • Note: no regulations currently exist regarding electronic cigarettes.
  • Today: The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services lists these priorities in its national strategic plan: reducing the smoking rate, preventing youth from starting use, and promoting the cessation of smoking through educational programs and assistance.

  • 2014: Fifty years after the original Surgeon General Report on smoking and health, a new report was released which calls the epidemic of cigarette smoking over the last century "an enormous and avoidable public health tragedy."

History of Tobacco Control in Ohio

Since the 1950s, Ohio has had advocates to curb the use of tobacco. The organization now known as American Lung Association of the Midland States was a founding member in the fight against tobacco use, even before the landmark Surgeon General’s Report in 1964. Additionally, the American Heart Association and the American Cancer Society to this day work in Ohio to build the “three legged stool” of tobacco control: 1) increased tobacco taxes, 2) reduction of the population’s exposure to second hand smoke, and 3) strong and stable funding of tobacco prevention and cessation services.

Federal funding for tobacco control programming came to the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) in 1988 with tobacco initiatives as activities funded through the Preventive Health and Human Services Block Grant. The Block Grant is a sum of money allocated to Ohio to fund programs deemed a priority at the state level which received no categorical federal funding.  

In 1991, the Ohio Tobacco Control Resource Group (later rebranded as the Tobacco Free Ohio Alliance) was formed. The Ohio Tobacco Resource Group was the first statewide tobacco coalition in Ohio. A fully functioning tobacco control program at ODH began in 1994 as a result of funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC awarded funding to ODH to hire tobacco program staff and to award funding to sub-grantees to implement tobacco prevention and cessation services at the local level. 

In November 1998, Ohio Attorney General Betty Montgomery and attorneys general of 45 other states settled with the United States Tobacco Product Manufacturers in what is known as the Master Settlement Agreement (MSA). The MSA called for payments to the 46 states to assist with medical costs incurred due to tobacco use. As a result, in 2000, the funds from the MSA were used to create the Tobacco Use Prevention and Control Foundation. The foundation implemented youth prevention and cessation initiatives across Ohio from 2000 to 2008, when the funds were securitized and remaining resources were transferred to the Tobacco Program at the ODH. During the period when the foundation was active, Ohio saw a decrease in overall smoking rates from 26.1 to 21.1 percent. Since securitization and the reduction in funding for tobacco control, Ohio has seen an overall increase in smoking rates.

On Nov. 7, 2006, Ohio voters passed Issue 5 to ban smoking in any "public place" or "place of employment." Ohio became the twelfth state to protect all workers and the public from exposure to secondhand smoke in workplaces and public places. The law took effect Dec. 7, 2006 and enforcement began May 3, 2007.

As the impact of tobacco has become an increasing burden on the health of Ohio's people and  pocketbook, many communities and organizations have focused on decreasing its use and minimizing the impact of tobacco use on Ohio’s citizens.  

Today, ODH serves as the seat of much tobacco control programming in the state. It has two major funding sources: the CDC and the State general revenue fund. ODH’s Tobacco Program is responsible for the management of the Ohio Tobacco Quit Line, limited youth prevention initiatives, assistance in sustaining the Tobacco Free Ohio Alliance and the provision of several sub-grants to local health departments and non-profit agencies to pursue evidence-based strategies to curb tobacco use in specific regions of the state. The Tobacco Program also administers Ohio’s Smokefree Workplace Law.