Who Should Set Tobacco Policy, City or State?

From 1996 to 1997, the American Lung Association, Washington, in collaboration with the American Nonsmokers' Rights Foundation, the American Cancer Society, and the American Heart Association developed a national educational effort on the effect of preemption on tobacco policy.

Preemption refers to state or federal laws that restrict the authority of counties, cities, towns, or other local government units to enact or enforce their own policies.

The tobacco industry favors preemption because such legislation limits the enactment of tobacco policy to federal or state levels, where historically the industry has been more successful in overcoming attempts to enact local tobacco control policies than it has been at the local level.

Key Results

  • Project staff analyzed 26 preemptive bills introduced in 19 states during the 1996 legislative session (the bills were defeated in 17 states and enacted in two states—South Carolina and Delaware).

    They identified trends in preemptive legislation and documented public health and tobacco industry strategies.

  • Staff at the American Nonsmokers' Rights Foundation created a clearinghouse of materials on preemption that covered all bills introduced in the 1996 legislative session.

  • The collaborating organizations worked to educate the health community, state and local policymakers, and the general public on the issue of preemption and its impact on tobacco policy in the United States through developing new educational materials, articles, and news stories in print and broadcast media.