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Smoke Free

Importance of Local Control

(The tobacco industry) could never win at the local level…So the Tobacco Institute and tobacco companies’ first priority has always been to preempt the field, preferably to put it all on the federal level, but if they can’t do that, at least on the state level.”
-- Victor L. Crawford, former Tobacco Institute lobbyist in The Journal of the American Medical Association, July 19, 1995

Why work at the local level?  Even with vast financial resources, cigarette companies cannot effectively fight smoke-free ordinances in local municipalities throughout the country. Rather than engage in numerous local campaigns throughout our state, the tobacco industry prefers to fight just one battle at the state legislature where it has strong ties, existing resources and the best chance of blocking meaningful smoke-free legislation. This approach is nothing new and has been used in states across the nation.

The success rate at the local level remains remarkably high because local legislation remains far easier to pass than state initiatives and local ordinances are generally much better enforced than state laws. Enforcement at the local level is often easier because the community, having been involved in its development, is more aware of and more supportive of the law. Many communities throughout South Carolina are interested in working on their own smoke-free workplace laws and must not have the right to do this taken away from them.

One of the key threats to effectively preventing tobacco use is preemption, or the effort to prevent local governments from enacting laws stronger than state laws. The tobacco industry clearly recognizes preemption as their best tactic against tobacco control. Preemption is difficult to remove after insertion into a state law. Many advocates are tempted by the opportunity to cover an entire state with a tobacco control law, rather than taking several years to pass strong local laws.

The South Carolina Tobacco-Free Collaborative has set local comprehensive smoke free workplace laws policy priority. By returning lawmaking power to the local level and removing state impositions, we will be able to ensure a healthier South Carolina.


SC Ordinances Map
Top 10 Reasons Preemption is Always Harmful
Local Control

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