Sample Cover letter


Dear ____________,

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 so.

[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, too.]




Resolution Supporting Local Authority to Protect Public Health
Fact sheet about the resolution project