Preemption Repeal a Breath of Fresh Air for Tennessee: During Heart Month, Support Grows for Smoke-free Public Spaces
Nashville, Feb. 8, 2018 - The fate of local smoking ordinances impacting the secondhand smoke Tennesseans breathe may finally be given to communities at the local level. Municipalities throughout Tennessee would be allowed to craft their own local smoking policies protecting the health of citizens through a bill making its way through the Tennessee Legislature.
House Bill 2327 / Senate Bill 2525, the Local Option Bill, sponsored by State Government Committee Chairman Bob Ramsey (R-20) and Senator Bill Ketron (R-13) respectively, would repeal the tobacco preemption clause from Tennessee law and insert the local option. The bill designates local government exemptions to state tobacco products preemption law and allows local governments to regulate smoking in those areas.
"As written today, state law is ignoring the will of the people in local communities who desire smoke-free air," said Chairman Bob Ramsey. "The air we breathe is a public safety matter - no one should be forced to walk around in a cloud of poison. Telling a community 'you have control over your smoking-related policy' is simply the right thing to do."
During Heart Month in February, the American Heart Association - the world's leading voluntary health organization devoted to fighting cardiovascular disease - hopes that with lawmakers' support, the Local Option Bill will reduce cardiovascular disease and other health problems associated with secondhand smoke. The organization is a member of a coalition supporting the bill, including Tobacco Free Kids, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, Americans for Nonsmokers Rights and the American Lung Association.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 41,200 adult non-smokers die every year in the United States from heart disease and lung cancer caused by exposure to secondhand smoke. It is also a known cause for low birth-weight births, chronic lung ailments as well as other health problems.
"It is 2018, yet so many Tennesseans are not given an option to breath clean air," said Christian Marks, chairperson of the American Heart Association's Tennessee State Advocacy Committee. "The choice is to limit the places they visit or risk being exposed to secondhand smoke."
Numerous studies show smoke-free laws do not hurt restaurant and bar patronage, employment, sales or profits. In fact, the laws have been found to either have no effect at all on business activity, or they even produce slightly positive trends.
According to the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, annual healthcare costs in Tennessee directly caused by smoking total $2.67 billion. Medicaid costs caused by smoking total $823.6 million annually. And smoking-related productivity loss totals $3.59 billion annually - this does not include secondhand smoke.