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Preemptive State Smoke-Free Indoor Air Laws— United States, 1999–2004

This page is archived for historical purposes and is no longer being updated.

March 18, 2005 / Vol. 54 / No. 10

MMWR Highlights

  • Preemption provisions in state smoke-free indoor air laws remain common and almost no progress is being made toward the 2010 goal of eliminating all preemptive state smoke-free indoor air laws.
  • States without preemption provisions may set minimum requirements and allow the continued passage and enforcement of local ordinances that can establish a greater level of public health protection.
  • As of December 31, 2004, a total of 19 states had at least one preemptive provision in their smoke-free indoor air legislation. During 1999–2004, state-level smoke-free indoor air laws lost preemptive provisions (totally or in part) in two states and acquired preemptive status in three states.
  • During 1999–2004, two states (Delaware and Louisiana) repealed and two states (Mississippi and Oregon) adopted preemption provisions in laws for government worksites; two states (Delaware and Louisiana) repealed and one state (Oregon) adopted preemption provisions in laws for private worksites; and one state (Delaware) repealed and two states (New Hampshire and Oregon) gained preemptive provisions in laws for restaurants.
  • Policies establishing smoke-free environments are the most effective method for reducing exposure to secondhand smoke, and restrictions on where smoking is allowed are associated with decreased cigarette consumption and possibly with increased cessation rates among workers and the general public.
  • An estimated 3,000 lung cancer deaths and more than 35,000 coronary heart disease deaths occur annually among adult nonsmokers in the United States as a result of exposure to secondhand smoke.
  • There is no known safe level of secondhand smoke exposure, and evidence suggests that even short-term exposure may increase the risk of experiencing a heart attack.
  • Exposure to secondhand smoke is associated with an increased risk for lower respiratory infections, asthma, sudden infant death syndrome, and chronic ear infections among children.
  • Although population-based data show declining secondhand smoke exposure in the United States over time, secondhand smoke exposure remains a common, preventable public health hazard.