In 2013, more Missourians are protected from secondhand smoke in the workplace than ever before. Twenty-two communities across the state have implemented clean indoor air ordinances prohibiting smoking in bars, restaurants and workplaces. Action by advocates at the local level led to the success of enacting these laws and improving the public health of the community. Grassroots movements engaging local citizens with their elected officials reflect the national trend to return lawmaking power to the local level.
In an increasingly complex policy environment, clean indoor air laws offer a simple solution that can be implemented by citizens who are concerned about the public health and safety of their town.
However, there is a tobacco industry tactic, preemption, which attempts to strip lower levels of government of their authority to enact laws.
Preemption threatens the previous policy successes and endangers future efforts to protect the people’s right to breathe clean air. Currently, 13 states have some form of preemption keeping local communities from enacting any law that is more comprehensive than the “ceiling” of the statewide law.
The tobacco industry has turned to this method of blocking policy change because of recent successes in passing community ordinances that limit smoking in public places and protect public health.
We work hard in our community to make it the best place possible to live, work and play. Having local control to determine the best approach and implementation of policy change is essential. Over the past few years, we’ve watched local law enforcement, city government and elected officials work together to create an environment of understanding. We’ve witnessed advocates come together to provide their community information on the dangers of exposure to secondhand smoke and provide cessation services for those who want to quit. These communities have worked together to produce logical solutions to education, enforcement and compliance with a law that is specific to their community. For these reasons, government should be in the hands of the elected officials who are closest to the people.
Tobacco Free Missouri and our members want to protect ALL Missourians and will keep working until we achieve this goal. We believe every worker, every family and every Missourian deserves smokefree air.
It is important to recognize that a statewide smokefree law would help to protect ALL Missourians. However, until we achieve this goal, we want to continue working at the local level.
As the legislative session unfolds, be sure to ask your elected officials to protect local control and the autonomy of local elected officials and citizens to impact policy change.