Sample Cover letter
Tobacco use kills 13,000 New Jersey smokers and nonsmokers
every year. New Jersey local governments, health organizations,
and others have fought hard to protect our citizens, especially
children, from tobacco. New Jersey leads the nation in ordinances
to eliminate tobacco vending machines and to ensure smokefree
outdoor air. But our local governments are being thwarted
by a powerful, national campaign that has challenged the right
of local governments to enact smokefree indoor air ordinances.
That’s why the [name of organization or entity]
has joined in a project to protect our local governments from
these attacks on local control. Your help is crucial. And
we've made it easy for you – your [organization or
entity] can just pass a resolution like the enclosed model
and ask local governments to pass one, too.
Why should your [organization or entity] take action?
Look at what our local governments have accomplished and what
they have endured to earn these successes:
- New Jersey local governments have enacted more than 135
ordinances banning tobacco vending machines – 30%
of all such ordinances nationwide. But eleven New Jersey
municipalities were sued by the tobacco industry for these
ordinances. All the New Jersey municipalities prevailed
although East Brunswick had to fight all the way to the
New Jersey Supreme Court to protect its ordinance.
- New Jersey also leads the nation in smokefree outdoor
air ordinances, with 71 of the nation's 421 ordinances for
smokefree playgrounds, beaches, and municipal property.
These outdoor ordinances show our local governments' desire
to take action against tobacco.
- But New Jersey local governments have passed only five
smokefree indoor air ordinances out of almost 300 in the
U.S. – we have less than 2% of our nation’s
smokefree air ordinances for workplaces and public places.
Why? In June 2000, Princeton passed New Jersey's first comprehensive
smokefree air ordinance, including restaurants and bars.
But the Township and Borough were sued by the National Smokers
Alliance – which gets virtually all its funding from
the tobacco industry – and two restaurants and a bar.
In September 2000, the Mercer County Superior Court struck
down the Princeton ordinance, ruling that state smoking-control
laws preempted Princeton's local legislation.
Many other New Jersey local governments have reported that
they are interested in enacting smokefree indoor air ordinances,
including comprehensive ordinances, but are uncertain about
their authority and fear a lawsuit like Princeton's.
That’s why I urge you to demonstrate your support for
local authority to protect public health and local freedom
to pass smokefree air ordinances. Have your [organization,
local affiliates, congregation, etc] enact a resolution
and ask your local governing body to enact one, too. Assemblywoman
Loretta Weinberg, who has introduced legislation to repudiate
any preemption and restore local authority, has asked us for
proof of demand.
Please pass a resolution and return a copy by April 30 to
New Jersey GASP, the project manager (contact info at end
of letter). New Jersey GASP is tracking all resolutions and
providing technical assistance. Many other entities and organizations
are being asked to sign the resolution including all New Jersey
municipal governing bodies, local boards of health, many statewide
organizations, community groups, businesses including restaurants,
and others. (I enclose a fact sheet about the project.) We
plan to announce the number of signed resolutions in late
May for World No Tobacco Day 2004.
This resolution project is a joint effort of the New Jersey
League of Municipalities, the New Jersey Local Boards of Health
Association, New Jersey GASP, the New Jersey Prevention Network
with its county Community Against Tobacco coalitions, plus
New Jersey Breathes, the tobacco-control coalition with more
than 50 statewide organizations as members including the American
Cancer Society, the American Heart Association, the American
Lung Association, and the Medical Society of New Jersey.
Most other states don't preempt local smokefree air legislation.
In fact, 1,700 local governments throughout the United States
have enacted laws restricting or eliminating tobacco use in
workplaces and public places, including restaurants and bars.
New Jersey municipalities that want to eliminate this Class
A carcinogen from the air we breathe should be free to do
[A statement here about the letter-issuing entity or organization,
saying why this project is consistent with its mission, and
that it is passing a resolution and urging others to do so,
Resolution Supporting Local Authority to Protect Public Health
Fact sheet about the resolution project