Tobacco Use Prevention

Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable disease, disability and death in the United States. Every year, nearly half a million Americans die prematurely of smoking or exposure to secondhand smoke. Another 16 million live with a serious illness caused by smoking. Franklin County Public Health is working with our jurisdictions on tobacco use prevention, community awareness of tobacco prevention, increasing policies to lower the risk of secondhand smoke illnesses and expanding tobacco cessation services. Current initiatives include partnering with our jurisdictions to identify and implement policy, working with retailers to educate and inform of new laws while ensuring compliance and increasing youth informed prevention and cessation efforts.  

In 2019, the CDC reported that 36.7% of Ohio high school youth indicated use of tobacco and nicotine products, including e-cigarettes. While this number is shocking so are the long term impacts of tobacco use. Make it Make Sense is a campaign that promises to raise awareness of the dangers to tobacco usage and linkage to cessation services to everyone. Visit for more information.

Resources to Help Quit Tobacco

If you or someone in your household uses tobacco, free resources for quitting are available:

  • Call 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669) and speak with an intake specialist to discuss assistance to help you quit tobacco.
  • The Ohio Tobacco Quit Line provides personal quit coaching and telephone counseling free of charge to all Franklin County residents age 18 and older. Nicotine patches, gum or lozenges are provided for up to four weeks at no charge to all Franklin County residents. Non Franklin County residents may call 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669) to discuss assistance that can be offered.
  • Employees and covered family members of companies and health plan organizations that are members of the Ohio Tobacco Collaborative are eligible to participate in the Ohio Tobacco Quit Line. More than 5.4 million Ohioans have access to the Ohio Quit Line through the Ohio Tobacco Collaborative.
  • The Ohio QuitLogix Online Tobacco Use Cessation Program is available to all Ohioans of age 18 or older (or younger with parental permission).
  • Smokefree TXT - This free 24/7 texting program sends encouragement, advice, and tips to help smokers quit smoking for good. To get started, just text QUIT to 47848, answer a few questions, and you'll start receiving messages.
  • My Life My Quit - For those under 18, text "Start My Quit" to 855-891-9989 or call to talk with a coach who is ready to listen and cheer you on.

Health Effects

Health Effects of SmokingSmoking harms nearly every organ of the body, causing many diseases and affecting the health of smokers and non-smokers. For every person who dies because of smoking, at least 30 people live with a serious smoking-related illness. Smoking causes cancer, heart disease, stroke, lung diseases, diabetes, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which includes emphysema and chronic bronchitis. Smoking also increases risk for tuberculosis, certain eye diseases, and problems of the immune system, including rheumatoid arthritis.

Smoking and secondhand smoke exposure reduce a woman’s chances of getting pregnant and have a higher risk of never becoming pregnant. Smoking during pregnancy increases the risk of pregnancy complications including:

  • Tissue damage in the unborn baby (particularly in the baby’s lungs and brain).
  • Possible link between maternal smoking and development of cleft lip for the baby.
  • Possible relationship between tobacco use and miscarriage. Carbon monoxide in tobacco smoke can keep the developing baby from getting enough oxygen. Tobacco smoke also contains chemicals that can harm unborn babies.
  • CelebrateOne carries out the Greater Columbus Infant Mortality Task Force's recommendations to reduce Franklin County's infant mortality rate by 40 percent and cut the racial health disparity gap in half by 2020. Click here for more information about CelebrateOne.
  • Premature delivery. Premature delivery is a leading cause of death, disability and disease among newborns.
  • One in every five babies born to mothers who smoke during pregnancy has low birth weight. Mothers who are exposed to secondhand smoke during pregnancy are more likely to have lower birth weight babies.
  • Babies of mothers who smoke during pregnancy and those exposed to secondhand smoke after birth after more likely to die from sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Babies whose mothers smoke are about three times more likely to die from SIDS.
  • Babies whose mothers smoke during pregnancy or those exposed to secondhand smoke after birth have weaker lungs than other babies, which increases the risk for many health problems.

Secondhand Smoke

Secondhand smoke exposure contributes to approximately 41,000 deaths among nonsmoking adults and 400 deaths in infants each year. Secondhand smoke causes stroke, lung cancer and coronary heart disease in adults. Children who are exposed to secondhand smoke are at an increased risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), acute and other respiratory infections, middle ear disease, more severe asthma and slowed lung growth.

Youth and Tobacco Use

Youth use of tobacco in any form is unsafe. Preventing tobacco use among youth is critical to ending the tobacco epidemic in the United States. Tobacco use is started primarily during adolescence. Nearly 9 out of 10 cigarette smokers first tried smoking by age 18 and 99% first tried smoking by age 26.

Cigarette smoking has declined among U.S. youth in recent years but the use of some other tobacco products has increased. Electronic cigarette use increased among middle and high school students from 2011 to 2015 as well as hookahs and smokeless tobacco use. Youth who use multiple products are at a higher risk of developing nicotine dependence and might be more likely to continue using tobacco into adulthood.

In Franklin County, a group of teenagers are taking a stand against tobacco in our community. Youth to Youth International was founded in Columbus in 1982 as a part of the drug and alcohol abuse prevention and treatment organization CompDrug. Their mission is to engage young people through meaningful discussions, activities and experiences to develop and implement their own ideas to create positive change. To learn more about Youth to Youth International and their local initiatives, click here.

Smokeless Tobacco

Smokeless tobacco is associated with many health problems. Using smokeless tobacco:

  • Can lead to nicotine addiction.
  • Causes cancer of the mouth, esophagus and pancreas.
  • Associated with diseases of the mouth.
  • Can increase risks for early delivery and still birth when used during pregnancy.
  • Can cause nicotine poisoning in children.
  • May increase the risk for death from heart disease and stroke.


Ohio Tobacco 21 Law

As of October 17, 2019 it is illegal to give, sell, or otherwise distribute cigarettes, other tobacco products, or alternative nicotine products like e-cigarette/vaping products to any person under the age of 21 in Ohio.

Types of Products Covered by Tobacco 21 Law

  • Cigarettes
  • Electronic smoking devices (vapes, e-cigs, tanks)
  • Cigars
  • Pipe tobacco
  • Chewing tobacco
  • Snuff
  • Snus
  • Dissolvable nicotine products
  • Filters, rolling papers, pipes, blunts or hemp wraps
  • Liquids used in electronic smoking devices (whether or not they contain nicotine)
  • Vapor products (any component, part or additive that is intended for use in an electronic smoking device, a mechanical heating element, battery, or electronic circuit and is used to deliver the product, see ORC 2927.02 for full list)

Signage Required
Ohio's Tobacco 21 law requires retailers to post a sign indicating that it is illegal to sell tobacco products and alternative nicotine products like e-cigarette and vaping products to anyone under the age of 21.

The sign must be clearly visible and have lettering at least 1/2 inch high. A sign that meets the law's requirement can be downloaded here.  Franklin County Public Health will have signage available for those establishments that hold food licenses.

When selling tobacco products and alternative nicotine products like e-cigarette/vaping products to anyone under the age of 21, both the person selling the products and the owner of the retail establishment may face criminal penalties that increase after the first violation under Ohio's Tobacco 21 law.

More Information
Download a fact sheet about Ohio's Tobacco 21 law here. Additional information is available on the Ohio Department of Health website or by calling 1-855-OHIO-T21 (1-855-6446-821).

Multi-Unit Smoke-Free Housing

The dangers of exposure to secondhand smoke are real. About 58 million nonsmokers in the U.S. are exposed to secondhand smoke – some in their own homes. More than one in three nonsmokers who live in rental housing are exposed to secondhand smoke and many who live in public housing are particularly vulnerable to the effects of secondhand smoke, including children, the elderly and people with disabilities.

Maintaining a healthy, smoke-free home is an option by following these tips:

  • Implement a household rule that prohibits anyone from smoking tobacco products inside your home at any time.
  • Support your family and neighbors who might need help to quit smoking.
  • Talk with community leaders about ways to make units and indoor common areas in multi-unit housing smoke-free. In Ohio, 71 apartment buildings have adopted a smoke-free policy to protect non-smoking residents from secondhand smoke. If you want help going smoke-free at your apartment building, contact Franklin County Public Health at or (614) 307-6871.
  • To learn more about successful multi-unit smoke-free housing, click here.


Inspector for Smoking Complaints & Tobacco to 21

Eric West
Tobacco Cessation and Harm Reduction Liaison
Health Systems & Planning
 Email Eric