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News Summary

State bars municipalities from enacting tobacco laws

Publication Date: 3/8/2015
  • Author:Ken Palmer
  • Publication:Lansing State Journal

...Most municipalities in the state don't have such a law, and they aren't allowed to pass one.

State law preempts local governments from enacting their own measures regulating tobacco sales. The measure was part of Proposal A, the school finance reform measure approved by voters in 1994.

Tobacco companies actually spent a lot of money fighting Proposal A, because it gave Michigan the highest cigarette taxes in the country at the time, but the preemption measure was the sort of thing they had pushed for nationwide, preferring consistent statewide laws to a patchwork of local regulations.

Ingham County and a handful of other communities that already had a local ordinance regulating tobacco sales were grandfathered in.

"It's a public health tragedy," said Jim Harrington, who helped implement Marquette County's compliance program during the mid-1990s.

Regulating tobacco sales at the local level clearly works, he said...

The time to roll back the preemption might be now, Douglas said, because the tobacco lobby -- though still influential -- doesn't carry the same weight it did 20 years ago.

At the end of 2010, Michigan was among only seven states that barred all types of local smoking restrictions, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention...