Ohio Judge Temporarily Blocks State Preemption Law

A judge in Ohio has approved a temporary order to stop a new state law from going into effect next week. This law would have cancelled the restrictions on flavored vape and tobacco products in Ohio cities. Franklin County Common Pleas Judge Mark Serrott has also scheduled a preliminary injunction hearing for May 17.

A lawsuit was filed by a group of 14 cities in Ohio recently. They are challenging a state law that prevents cities from banning flavored vapes and tobacco, or implementing stricter local regulations on tobacco than what the state allows.

The plaintiffs requested the court to issue a temporary restraining order to prevent the state law from being enforced until the case is resolved, as well as a permanent injunction. According to the Columbus Dispatch, Judge Serrott believes that the lawsuit is likely to be successful based on the merits, which is why the restraining order was granted.

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The lawsuit was filed by Columbus city attorney Zach Klein and includes three of the most populous cities in the state: Columbus, Cleveland, and Cincinnati. In 2022, Columbus passed a law that banned the sale of flavored vapes and tobacco. This law then led to a state-wide law. The Columbus flavor ban has been in place since January 1st.

The cities claim that the preemption law goes against the right of home rule, which gives municipalities the ability to make their own policies. This right is protected by the Ohio Constitution. The Columbus flavored vape ban and similar bans in Toledo and other cities would have been canceled if the state law had started next week. The flavor restrictions will continue to be in effect for now due to the temporary restraining order.

The law that prevents local governments from enacting flavor bans and other tobacco and vape regulations was passed as part of last year’s budget bill. On January 4th, Governor Mike DeWine used his power to veto specific parts of the bill, and he removed the preemption language. Within three weeks, both houses of the General Assembly voted to overturn DeWine’s veto, and the law was scheduled to go into effect in 90 days.

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