Protect Local Control

Ensuring Community Rights
To Pass Smokefree Ordinances

Press Release

WA State Supreme Court decision on local control

Preemption in WA state
Publication Date: 2005-02-10
Earlier this year, the Pierce County Board of Health in WA passed an ordinance requiring all workplaces and public places within Pierce County to be 100% smokefree. This ordinance was the first of its kind in the state of Washington. In January, the Entertainment Industry Coalition filed a lawsuit to repeal the ordinance, arguing that state law prevents local Washington municipalities from passing more protective smokefree measures. Smokefree advocates fought to take the case directly to the Washington State Supreme Court.  The WA State Supreme heard oral arguments on November 16, 2004.

A few hours ago, the Court released their ruling. They ruled against the Pierce County Health Department and this decision will reverse Pierce County's 100% smokefree ordinance.  How will the ruling impact other localities wishing to go smokefree in Washington state?  Bad news. The ruling suggests that the current WA state law restricts local communities in Washington from passing smokefree laws. 

The full decision is available at

This is a big blow to WA state, and a result of tobacco industry interference way back when the so-called "Clean Indoor Air" law was first passed in Washington. This reminds us to ensure that any state smokefree bill language appearing this session must include a clause to guarantee local control.  Over the past few decades, the tobacco industry has stripped away local control in over 15 states across the country. States are now working hard this session to reverse preemption where it exists. And to prevent it where they still can. To learn more about how to protect local control in your state, please visit

So what's next? Also this week in WA, a statewide group called Healthy Indoor Air for All in Washington kicked off their campaign to get a comprehensive smokefree law on the statewide ballot for November 2005. The group will start collecting signatures this weekend. For more information you can visit