Save lives, reduce spending, and create a healthier Maryland — RESTORE LOCAL TOBACCO CONTROL POWER
Support legislation in the 2021 General Assembly session that would allow local governments to continue their important and effective work to curb tobacco use.
ABOUT THE CAMPAIGN
Local governments in Maryland have been stripped of their power to fully protect residents from the devastating effects of tobacco use due to a contentious 2013 court ruling (Altadis v. Prince George’s County) — brought on by the tobacco industry — preventing them from passing new laws regulating tobacco products.
Prior to the 2013 ruling, local governments had been vanguards in using their power under the Maryland Constitution and Code to enact local laws related to smoking, tobacco use, and sale of tobacco products. Over the past two decades, local governments have adopted and put into action some of the strongest, most innovative, and effective tobacco control policies in the state.
As a result of the Altadis decision, local governments are prohibited from passing new laws related to tobacco sales and distribution and are hesitant to enforce existing tobacco ordinances for fear of further lawsuits from the tobacco industry. Without the authority to enact and enforce tobacco control laws, local governments cannot respond to what causes people to use tobacco in their communities — stifling progress in reducing use, especially among young people.
Authority over tobacco control policy in Maryland does not have to reside all with the state or all with local government. Each level of government brings its strengths to the table. If combined through partnership, they can be a powerful vehicle to accomplish what could not be done separately, for the betterment of all Marylanders. But first, the power of local governments to pass new tobacco control laws must be restored.
Ensuring local governments have the right to enact and enforce laws relating to the sale and distribution of tobacco products will better protect Marylanders from the well-documented dangers of tobacco use and secondhand smoke exposure. Maryland’s elected officials should support legislation in the 2021 General Assembly that would allow local governments to continue their important and effective work to curb tobacco use.
GET THE FACTS
In June 2020, the Legal Resource Center for Public Health Policy (LRC) at the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law and the American Heart Association conducted a webinar focused on understanding the Altadis v. Prince George’s County decision and its impact on the ability of local
governments to legislate and enforce local tobacco control laws in Maryland, as well as possible approaches to reverse its impact on local jurisdictions.
Changing the Landscape: State Preemption and Local Tobacco Control Laws Webinar
According to the 2018 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), Maryland has the 5th lowest adult smoking rate in the country and the 17th highest cigarette excise tax. State and local governments should build on that progress and help their communities carry forward and scale-up innovative tobacco control solutions. But first, the power of local governments to pass new tobacco control laws must be restored by the Maryland General Assembly.
Restoring the power of local governments to pass new tobacco control laws has broad support in Maryland:
Tell Maryland legislators to support legislation in the 2021 General Assembly session that would correct the consequences of the Altadis v. Prince George’s County court ruling and allow local governments to continue their important and effective work to curb tobacco use.