Protect Local Control

Ensuring Community Rights
To Pass Smokefree Ordinances
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"Local actions by communities has been proven to be effective in enforcing youth access legislation and reducing tobacco use among young persons. However, the tobacco industry has been equally successful in weakening local control and community involvement through state laws containing preemption provisions."

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, November 3, 1995


All indoor workplaces and public places in Washington, including restaurants and bars, are 100% smokefree. Thanks to Initiative 901 which passed by 64% in 2005, all Washington workers and residents now breathe clean, healthy indoor air in all workplaces throughout the state, including restaurants, bars and (non-tribal) casinos. Read the Washington Clean Indoor Air Act and learn more how it affects Washington's residents workers and businesses.

The initiative enjoyed broad statewide support and passed in every county statewide. This victory marked the first state to pass a 100% smokefree workplace measure for all non-hospitality workplaces, restaurants and bars via the ballot box. The result at the polls in Washington sent a firm message to elected officials across the country: Voters overwhelmingly support strong smokefree protections which protect all workers. The campaign was led by Healthy Indoor Air for All Washington, a statewide group made up of thousands advocates and organizations, such as health groups, hospitals, unions, faith groups, and the Greater Seattle Chamber of Commerce.

For more information about the law, visit SecondhandSmokesYou. Learn how to report a violation in your county.

In King County,
click here for FAQs or call (206) 296-7613 for more information.

Read more about current tobacco-related legislation in Washington.

Current tobacco-related statistics are available from the Centers for Disease Control's Tobacco Control State Highlights, 2010.

Washington's 2018 Legislative Session: January 8 - March 9


Some people have inquired, "Why didn't Washington pass more local laws before going for a statewide law?". Great question. The answer, is because they were preempted from passing any laws on the local level. Below, you'll find the story from Pierce County.

In 2003, 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 of 2004, 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.

In February 2005, the Washington State Supreme Court released their ruling. They ruled against the Pierce County Health Department and this decision reversed Pierce County's 100% smokefree ordinance. How did the ruling impact other localities wishing to go smokefree in Washington State? It was bad news. The ruling suggested that the (then current) Washington state law restricted local communities in Washington from passing smokefree laws.

The full decision is available at

Washington's lack of local control was a result of tobacco industry interference way back when the so-called "Washington Clean Indoor Air" law was first passed. 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 to reverse preemption where it exists. And to prevent it where they still can.

In the case of Washington State, advocates went to the state legislators in Olympia, asking them to return local control to Washington's cities and towns, or to pass a comprehensive statewide law. The legislature refused to act. In response, Healthy Indoor Air for All in Washington successfully gathered over 300,000 signatures to place Initiative 901 on the statewide ballot. The rest is history.

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