Resolution Supporting Local Authority to Protect Public Health Through Regulation of Smoking

Whereas tobacco use and secondhand smoke are public health hazards;

Whereas tobacco use is a safety hazard, linked to increased fires and accidents;

Whereas tobacco use imposes economic costs, borne by governments, proprietors, and nonsmokers;

Whereas smokefree air policies and laws protect health and safety, and reduce costs;

Whereas the majority of New Jerseyans and other Americans do not smoke;

Whereas 1,700 local governments throughout the United States have passed local legislation that restricts smoking, and the majority of other states do not preempt local smokefree air legislation;

Whereas New Jersey has a strong home rule tradition, and its Constitution and legislation authorize local governments to enact legislation to protect public health, safety, and welfare;

Whereas local authority to protect public health is threatened by a powerful, nationwide campaign that seeks legislation to preempt (eliminate) local authority to control tobacco, and that uses lawsuits to challenge local authority to control tobacco use;

Whereas, in June 2000, the Princeton Regional Health Commission enacted a smokefree air ordinance, was sued by the National Smokers Alliance along with two restaurants and a bar, and, in August 2000, the Mercer County Superior Court ruled that New Jersey state law preempted the Princeton ordinance;

Whereas, in spite of that August 2000 Mercer County court decision, New Jersey local governments have, since September 2000, enacted more than 70 ordinances controlling smoking outdoors and 15 ordinances controlling smoking indoors, yet other New Jersey local governments report they have not enacted legislation because of uncertainty about their authority and fear of lawsuit;

Now, therefore, be it resolved that _______________ supports New Jersey state legislation to repudiate or repeal any preemption of local smokefree air legislation, and to reiterate or restore the authority of local governments to enact and enforce local controls on tobacco use to protect public health.