Protect Local Control

Ensuring Community Rights
To Pass Smokefree Ordinances

State Status

Any Preemption


"Because regulations in general may be more effective if generated and enforced at the local level, considerable energy is devoted to the issue of opposing or repealing preemption of local authority by states. Public health analyses have resulted in strong recommendations that state laws not preempt local action..."

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Reducing Tobacco Use: A Report of the Surgeon General, 2000


Many workplaces in Tennessee are smokefree as of October 1, 2007. The law was a step forward for public health by protect many workers, but unfortunately the law exempts workplaces with four or fewer employees, and any restaurant or bar that chooses to prohibit people under age 21 at all times. Read Tennessee's smokefree law.

To learn more, visit the Tennessee Department of Health.
To report a violation, call 1-800-293-8228 or fill out an online form.

Tennessee, one of the states left most behind in our national movement, faces the challenge that local communities are not able to adopt their own smokefree laws to close gaps and expand coverage, due to preemption. In 2016, the Legislature adopted a law to give municipalities the right to prohibit smoking on the grounds of municipal property, which is a small step forward in expanding local control.  

Tennessee state law preempts local control and (TN CODE ANN. § 39-17-1551) states, "The general assembly intends by this part and other provisions of Tennessee Code Annotated to occupy and preempt the entire field of legislation concerning the regulation of tobacco products. Any law or regulation of tobacco products enacted or promulgated after March 15, 1994, by any agency or political subdivision of the state or any agency thereof is void; provided, that cities, counties and counties having a metropolitan form of government may regulate the use of tobacco products in buildings owned or leased by such political subdivisions; and provided further, that airport authorities created pursuant to the provisions of title 42; utility districts created pursuant to the provisions of title 7; and special school districts may regulate the use of tobacco products in buildings owned or leased by such entities. Notwithstanding any other provision of the law to the contrary, individual owners or operators of retail establishments located within an enclosed shopping mall shall retain the right to determine the policy on the use of tobacco products within such person's establishment."

Read more about current tobacco-related legislation in Tennessee.

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

Tennessee's 2018 Legislative Session: : January 9 - Mid April

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