A content review of state tobacco pre-emption laws in the US

S. Azagba, T. Ebling, J. K. Jensen, M. Hall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives: State ceiling pre-emption laws effectively limit the authority of local governments to regulate numerous public health issues, including tobacco. While general trends in the number of state tobacco pre-emption laws have been well-documented, less is known about the specific content of these laws. This study provides a comprehensive analysis of the content of current state tobacco pre-emption laws and captures the salient features of these laws. Study design: This was a comparative analysis of tobacco pre-emption laws in the United States. Methods: The study team collected data about tobacco pre-emption laws from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's State Tobacco Activities Tracking and Evaluation System. Trained legal researchers further verified and reviewed each law's content using the Westlaw database. A coding scheme was developed to capture and analyse these laws' most salient features. Results: State tobacco pre-emption laws use various terms to indicate the pre-emption of a local authority, including supersede, pre-empt, uniform, exclusive, and consistent. State laws cover numerous general topics and vary widely in explicit terminology of authorities and fields pre-empted. Several state laws included grandfathering exceptions and a few allowed exceptions for particular local jurisdictions. Conclusions: State laws that undermine local tobacco control efforts from implementing more stringent laws pose a threat to public health. These laws vary widely in their scope across the U.S., and local jurisdictions should be empowered to enact and maintain tobacco control measures that protect their communities from the harms of tobacco use and exposure.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)140-146
Number of pages7
JournalPublic Health
StatePublished - Sep 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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