Judge Rules State Law is Unconstitutional

(NationRise.com) – In a significant development, a judge has struck down a state law, deeming it unconstitutional as it prevents cities from prohibiting certain types of tobacco.

The ruling was issued by Mark Serrott, a common pleas court judge in Franklin County, Ohio, on May 17th. His verdict came a month after he issued an order temporarily halting enforcement of the rule. The measure was passed in January by the Republican Legislature. They overruled a previous veto from Republican Governor Mike DeWine of a budget bill that gave more regulatory controls to the state government.

Ohio is gearing up for a legal battle as it plans to appeal the judgment. Several cities, including Cincinnati and Columbus, have filed a lawsuit against the state law. However, the resulting injunction only applies to those two cities, not the entire state. The city of Cleveland, undeterred, has announced that it will continue pushing for a proposed ban.

Ohio’s state government said regulating tobacco products and certain alternatives is a level of power reserved for the state government, not local jurisdictions. That’s why the law prohibited local communities from voting on measures to ban vaping products and e-cigarettes. It was initially enacted in 2022, shortly after the city of Columbus approved a ban against flavored tobacco products, a measure that would have taken effect early in 2024. It was vetoed that year but later came up in the state’s budget.

The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network and other advocates against the legalization of tobacco products vehemently denounced the override, claiming that it handed the tobacco industry a big victory. They also argued that it will lead to more addictions among minors.

Others who opposed the legislation claimed that it violates Ohio’s home rule provision. That rule permits local jurisdictions to set ordinances on their own, provided they don’t conflict with state code. Serrott agreed with their claim.

Supporters said the measure would create uniformity regarding the state’s tobacco rules, thereby reducing confusion among citizens. They also said local rules could interfere with the state’s ability to earn revenue. DeWine agreed that a statewide ban would offer more uniformity.

Copyright 2024, NationRise.com