197568 Perils of Preemption: The Tobacco Experience

Monday, November 9, 2009: 10:45 AM

D. Douglas Blanke, JD, NGS , Tobacco Control Legal Consortium, William Mitchell College of Law, Saint Paul, MN
Decades of painful experience have taught public health leaders that preemption of local or state tobacco control policies is almost always harmful to health. Like many other businesses, tobacco companies understand that shifting policymaking to higher levels, where they wield greatest influence, is key to evading strong regulation. In the words of a former Tobacco Institute lobbyist, “We could never win at the local level. . . . . [T]obacco companies' first priority has always been to preempt the field, preferably to put it all on the federal level, but if they can't do that, at least on the state level . . . ..” Unfortunately, preemption is sometimes accepted by exhausted advocates as the necessary price for adoption of their hard-fought proposals. Time after time, health leaders have acceded to preemptive tobacco control laws, only to learn to their regret and embarrassment that the supposed “solutions” to which they have agreed have, in fact, undermined health. This presentation will review the impact of preemption across a spectrum of tobacco policies, including the regulation of advertising, product content, product labeling, sales practices and smoking policies, and will explore possible lessons for other areas of public health policy.

Learning Objectives:
1. Explain commercial interests’ motivation to preempt local public health policymaking. 2. Describe the potential harm to public health when local and state policymaking authority is curtailed unnecessarily. 3. Identify key criteria for determining when preemption is appropriate and when it is unwise.

Keywords: Tobacco Policy, Local Public Health Agencies

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I direct the Tobacco Control Legal Consortium, the legal network supporting tobacco control in the United States. I also direct the Tobacco Law Center, a public interest legal center supporting effective public health policies related to tobacco. I have worked primarily in the fields of public health law and tobacco control law for fifteen years, have published on tobacco control policy and legislation, and have been active in supporting the development of numerous health-related laws across the United States.
Any relevant financial relationships? Yes

Name of Organization Clinical/Research Area Type of relationship
Johnson & Johnson tobacco control Stock Ownership
Pfizer tobacco control Stock Ownership

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.