Protect Local Control

Ensuring Community Rights
To Pass Smokefree Ordinances

News Summary

A Smoke-Free Knoxville

Publication Date: 2005-01-20
  • Author:Paige M. Travis
  • Publication:Metro Pulse
Chastity Mitchell, government relations director for the American Cancer Society in Nashville, describes 1994's tobacco act as a good bill. . . . The bill flew through committee, passed in the Senate and landed on the House floor, where it gained a last-minute rider, an exemption said to have been drafted by the tobacco industry itself. Known as a preemption, the section made it so Tennessee's standing tobacco legislation could be matched but not adjusted by local governments. . . . . .

If legislators voted against the bill, it would look like they were against keeping tobacco products away from kids; if they voted for, they took away their own local governments rights to pass tobacco laws stricter than the state's. After vigorous debate and dozens of rejected amendments, the bill passed, and 10 years later, it still stands. . . .

"Preemption is a mechanism that is used by the tobacco industry so they don't have to be at every city or county meeting to refuse this," says Casenburg. "Big Tobacco" has passed preemptive legislation in 29 states that keeps local municipalities from adopting stronger clean-air laws or tougher youth-access measures. . . .