Comprehensive Smoke-Free Laws — 50 Largest U.S. Cities, 2000 and 2012
WeeklyNovember 16, 2012 / 61(45);914-917
Secondhand smoke (SHS) exposure causes heart disease and lung cancer in nonsmoking adults and several health conditions in children (1). Only completely eliminating smoking in indoor spaces fully protects nonsmokers from SHS (1). State and local laws can provide this protection in enclosed workplaces and public places by completely eliminating smoking in these settings (1). CDC considers a smoke-free law to be comprehensive if it prohibits smoking in all indoor areas of private workplaces, restaurants, and bars, with no exceptions (2). In response to growing evidence on the health effects of SHS, communities and states have increasingly adopted comprehensive smoke-free (CSF) laws in recent years (1,2). To assess trends in protecting the population from SHS exposure, CDC and the American Nonsmokers' Rights Foundation (ANRF) compared coverage by local or state CSF laws in the 50 largest U.S. cities as of December 31, 2000, and October 5, 2012. The analysis focused on smoking restrictions in the 50 largest cities because these cities represent an important indicator of nationwide trends in local and state policy and because they are home to an estimated 47 million persons, or nearly 15% of the U.S. population. The analysis found that the number of these cities covered by local and/or state CSF laws increased from one city (2%) in 2000 to 30 cities (60%) in 2012. A total of 20 cities (40%) were not covered by a CSF law at either the local or state level in 2012, although 14 of these cities had 100% smoke-free provisions in place at the local or state level in at least one of the three settings considered. The results of this analysis indicate that substantial progress has been achieved during 2000–2012 in implementing CSF laws in the 50 largest U.S. cities. However, gaps in coverage, especially in the southern United States and in states with laws that preempt local smoking restrictions, are contributing to disparities in SHS protections.
In the United States, the strongest smoking restrictions traditionally have originated at the local level (1). Local jurisdictions began to adopt CSF laws in the 1990s (1,3). The first local CSF law was implemented by Shasta County, California, in 1993 (3). The first state CSF law was enacted by Delaware in 2002 (2). As the past decade progressed, more states enacted CSF laws, often after a number of local jurisdictions in the state had implemented such laws (1–3).
Data on the 50 largest cities were obtained from the 2000 and 2010 U.S. censuses.* The data are based on the population within city limits. In 2010, the population of these cities ranged from 365,438 in Arlington, Texas, to 8,175,133 in New York, New York, with a median population of 600,690. During 2000–2010, New Orleans, Louisiana; Honolulu, Hawaii; and St. Louis, Missouri, dropped off this list, and Louisville-Jefferson County, Kentucky; Raleigh, North Carolina; and Arlington, Texas, were added to it.
Data on local smoking restrictions in effect for the 50 largest cities as of December 31, 2000, and October 5, 2012, were obtained from the U.S. Tobacco Control Laws Database† maintained by ANRF. This database categorizes various types of U.S. municipal and county laws relating to tobacco, including smoking restrictions. Laws included in the database are identified through various means, including systematic scanning of tobacco control publications, websites, and e-mail discussion lists and partnerships with the National Association of County and City Health Officials and the National Association of Local Boards of Health. Senior staff members use standardized guidelines and codebooks to abstract the laws.
Data on state smoking restrictions in effect as of December 31, 2000, and October 5, 2012, were obtained from CDC's State Tobacco Activities Tracking and Evaluation (STATE) System database.§ This database contains tobacco-related epidemiologic and economic data and information on state tobacco-related legislation. State legislation is collected quarterly from an online legal research database of state laws and is analyzed, coded, and entered into the STATE System. The STATE System contains information on state tobacco-related laws, including smoking restrictions, in effect since the fourth quarter of 1995. In addition to information on state smoking restrictions in worksites, restaurants, and bars, the STATE System contains information on state smoking restrictions in other settings, including government worksites, commercial and home-based child-care centers, multiunit housing, vehicles, hospitals, prisons, and hotels and motels.
The ANRF database tracks state smoking restrictions as well as local smoking restrictions. The STATE System and ANRF databases generally are in agreement in categorizing state smoking restrictions. However, in the few cases where these sources differ, this analysis relies on the STATE System categorization.¶
Only one of the 50 largest U.S. cities (San Jose, California) was covered by a local CSF law as of December 31, 2000. None of these cities were covered by statewide CSF laws on this date, since no such laws had been implemented at the state level.
On October 5, 2012, 16 of the 50 largest cities (32%) were covered by a local CSF law (Table). Twenty of the 50 largest cities (40%) were covered by a state CSF law, including 14 (28%) of the cities that were not covered by a local CSF law and six (12%) of the cities that were covered by such a local law. Thus, 30 (60%) of the cities were covered by a local CSF law, a state CSF law, or both.
The remaining 20 cities were not covered by either local or state CSF laws. These cities are home to approximately 16 million residents, or 5% of the U.S. population. Although 14 of these cities have 100% smoke-free local or state provisions in place in at least one of the three settings considered in this study, the remaining six (Los Angeles, California; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; Fresno, California; Virginia Beach, Virginia; Atlanta, Georgia; and Tulsa, Oklahoma) do not. The 20 cities that lack CSF laws are located in 10 states. Ten of these 20 cities are located in the southern United States (Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia). Ten of the 20 cities are located in states (Florida, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Virginia) with less than comprehensive state smoking restrictions that preempt (i.e., prohibit) local smoking restrictions that differ from state law.** Six of the 20 cities that lack CSF laws are located in California, which has substantial statewide smoking restrictions that were enacted in 1994, at an early point in the evolution of smoke-free policies, and fall short of current standards for CSF laws.†† The same is true of the local laws in place in some of these California cities.
Reported byMaggie Hopkins, Cynthia Hallett, MPH, American Nonsmokers' Rights Foundation, Berkeley, California. Stephen Babb, MPH, Brian King, PhD, Michael Tynan, Allison MacNeil, MPH, Office on Smoking and Health, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, CDC. Corresponding contributor: Stephen Babb, firstname.lastname@example.org, 770-488-1172.
Editorial NoteThe results of this analysis indicate that substantial progress was achieved from 2000 to 2012 in expanding CSF policy coverage in the 50 largest U.S. cities. In the year 2000, only a relatively small number of communities had local CSF laws in place, and those communities were largely concentrated in a few states such as California and Massachusetts (1,3). No statewide CSF laws were in place at this time (2).This stands in marked contrast to the situation today. As a result of growing awareness of the health effects of SHS, diffusion of smoke-free policies as word spread about successful experiences with these policies, and changes in social norms, 26 states (including the District of Columbia) have implemented CSF laws to date (2).§§ Because of the same factors, many communities in other states have implemented CSF laws at the local level.¶¶ Consequently, a majority of the 50 largest U.S. cities are now covered by state or local CSF laws or both.
The first CSF laws in a state often are enacted by smaller communities (1,3). The successful implementation of smoke-free laws in smaller communities lays the groundwork for the adoption of similar laws by larger cities and, ultimately, at the state level (1–3). Regardless of whether they are implemented at the local or state level, smoke-free laws have been shown to receive high levels of public support and compliance, reduce SHS exposure, and improve health outcomes (1,4). The education and debate that accompany adoption of these laws generally result in increased public awareness of the law and its rationale (1,3,5–7). This education and debate, as well as the experience of living under the law, often lead to changes in social norms that result in increasing public support for the law (1,4,5).
State CSF laws can extend policy protections to a broader population than local laws, thus eliminating disparities in these protections (1,6). State smoke-free laws that set a floor for local smoking restrictions, rather than a ceiling, allow local SHS protections to evolve in step with emerging scientific evidence and changing standards (5–7).
The progress in extending comprehensive SHS protections to the majority of the 50 largest U.S. cities reported in this study is a major public health achievement. This shift reflects broader progress in extending these protections across much of the United States (1,2). Nearly half of the U.S. population is protected by state or local CSF laws today, compared with <3 2000.="2000." in="in" span="span">*** However, the findings of this analysis indicate that important gaps remain in smoke-free policy coverage in large U.S. cities. In particular, a number of cities in the southern United States have ineffective smoking restrictions or none at all. This gap in policy coverage creates disparities in public health protections that are likely to both reflect and contribute to broader tobacco-related population disparities (1,2). 3>
The findings also illustrate the barrier that state preemption laws pose to local SHS protections. Ten of the 20 cities in this study that lacked CSF laws in 2012 are located in states with such laws. These laws preclude local action to increase SHS protections (1,5–8) and are associated with lower worker coverage by smoke-free workplace policies and reduced support among smokers for smoke-free environments (5). Conversely, the findings illustrate that, in states that do not preempt local smoking restrictions, cities can implement comprehensive local protections in the absence of comprehensive state protections.
The findings in this report are subject to at least five limitations. First, this study reports on local and state smoking restrictions as of October 5, 2012; the information on city population size comes from April 1, 2010 U.S. Census data, which are the most recent census data based on actual population estimates (as opposed to projections). Second, the STATE System only captures information on certain types of state smoking restrictions, primarily statutes and executive orders, and does not include information on state administrative laws, regulations, or implementation guidelines. However, most state smoking restrictions are enacted through legislation. Third, this analysis does not include laws that restrict smoking in workplaces, restaurants, or bars without making the setting in question completely smoke-free. However, the U.S. Surgeon General has concluded that only completely eliminating smoking in indoor settings fully protects nonsmokers from SHS (1). Fourth, neither the ANRF U.S. Tobacco Control Laws Database nor the STATE System collects information on how local or state laws are enforced or observed in practice. However, if adequate preparation and education have occurred, local and state smoke-free laws are, in most cases, largely self-enforcing. Finally, the laws considered in this report do not cover all settings where nonsmokers are exposed to SHS. In particular, private settings such as homes and vehicles can be major sources of exposure, especially for children, and nonsmoking apartment residents who do not allow smoking in their homes can still be exposed to SHS that enters their homes from their neighbors' apartments (1,4,9).
Continued progress in protecting nonsmokers from SHS in workplaces and public places can be achieved through local or state action. In states with preemption, local action is not an option. New local CSF laws continue to be adopted in a number of states that lack state CSF laws but do not preempt local smoking restrictions. In early November 2012, North Dakota became the 27th state (including the District of Columbia) to enact a state CSF law, and the first state to do so since 2010.
- US Department of Health and Human Services. The health consequences of involuntary exposure to tobacco smoke: a report of the Surgeon General. Atlanta, GA: US Department of Health and Human Services, CDC; 2006. Available at http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/sgr/2006/index.htm. Accessed November 8, 2012.
- CDC. State smoke-free laws for worksites, restaurants, and bars—United States, 2000–2010. MMWR 2011;60:472–5.
- National Cancer Institute. State and local legislative action to reduce tobacco use. smoking and tobacco control monograph no. 11. Bethesda, MD: US Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health, National Cancer Institute; 2000. Available at http://cancercontrol.cancer.gov/tcrb/monographs/11/monograph_11.pdf . Accessed November 8, 2012.
- International Agency for Research on Cancer. Evaluating the effectiveness of smoke-free policies. Lyon, France: International Agency for Research on Cancer; 2009. Available at http://www.iarc.fr/en/publications/pdfs-online/prev/handbook13/handbook13.pdf . Accessed November 8, 2012.
- Mowery PD, Babb S, Hobart R, Tworek C, MacNeil A. The impact of state preemption of local smoking restrictions on public health protections and changes in social norms. J Environ Public Health 2012;2012:632629.
- CDC. Preemptive state tobacco-control laws—United States, 1982–1998. MMWR 1999;47:1112–4.
- CDC. State preemption of local smoke-free laws in government work sites, private work sites, and restaurants—United States, 2005–2009. MMWR 2010;59:105–8.
- The Task Force on Community Preventive Services. The guide to community preventive services: what works to promote health? New York, NY: Oxford University Press; 2005. Available at http://www.thecommunityguide.org/library/book/index.html. Accessed November 8, 2012.
- King BA, Travers MJ, Cummings KM, Mahoney MC, Hyland AJ. Secondhand smoke transfer in multiunit housing. Nicotine Tob Res 2010;12:1133–41.
* Information available at http://factfinder2.census.gov/faces/nav/jsf/pages/index.xhtml.
† Information available at http://www.no-smoke.org/pdf/USTobaccoControlLaws
§ Available at http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/statesystem.
¶ Specifically, the STATE System categorizes Colorado and New Mexico as having state CSF laws, whereas ANRF does not categorize these states in this way because of exemptions in their laws for workplaces with fewer than a specified number of employees. Also, because of differing interpretations of exemptions in California's and Connecticut's state smoking restrictions, the STATE System does not consider these states to have 100% smoke-free provisions in place for workplaces, restaurants, or bars, whereas ANRF considers these states to have 100% smoke-free provisions in the latter two settings, but not the first.
** Philadelphia's preexisting local law is exempted from state preemption, but the city is not allowed to strengthen this law, preventing it from achieving comprehensive coverage.
†† For example, these restrictions contain exemptions for separately ventilated employee break rooms and for workplaces with fewer than a specified number of employees.
§§ North Dakota voters recently approved a ballot measure that establishes comprehensive smoking restrictions in that state, but this law does not take effect until December 6, 2012.
¶¶ Information available at http://www.no-smoke.org/pdf/100ordlisttabs.pdf .
*** Information available at http://www.no-smoke.org/pdf/SummaryUSPopList.pdf .