Bill allowing local smoking regulation passes General Assembly

Smoking
A bill allowing local governments to regulate cigarette smoking and tobacco vapor product usage in age-restricted venues, including some restaurants and bars, has now gone to Gov. Bill Lee for signature. State Sen. Richard Briggs, R-Knoxville, introduced the bill and State Rep. Michele Carringer, R-Knoxville, carried its House companion.
Carringer
Rep. Michele Carringer,
R-Knoxville
Briggs
Sen. Richard Briggs,
R-Knoxville

A bill allowing local governments to more closely regulate cigarette and vapor tobacco use in age-restricted establishments has passed the General Assembly and now goes before Gov. Bill Lee. 

Senate Bill 2219 was introduced by State Sen. Richard Briggs, R-Knoxville, who is a medical doctor and a longtime advocate of bills allowing local governments more control over smoking bans to help protect children and victims of secondhand smoke. The companion bill, House Bill 2705, was carried by State Rep. Michele Carringer, R-Knoxville. 

The bill allows local governments to pass ordinances and resolutions to regulate smoking and the use of vapor products in age-restricted venues that are not retail tobacco stores – such as bars and restaurants. 

“The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) supports this legislation because local communities and counties are uniquely positioned to meet the needs of the people in their communities. Communities should be able to pass laws that are proven to promote good health and well-being for their residents, including comprehensive smoke-free laws.

The legislation was introduced last year and was largely led by a group of professional musicians called the Musicians for Smokefree Tennessee, who were supporting legislation that would remove the preemption clause that blocks local governments from regulating smoking in establishments with age restrictions, like bars and music venues, and would help create smoke-free workplaces for musicians.

“ACS CAN thanks the legislature for passing this important legislation and encourages Gov. Lee to move quickly to sign this legislation into law. This legislation is the first of many steps to ensure that all Tennesseans are guaranteed a smoke-free workplace. ACS CAN looks forward to keeping the momentum going by working with local communities to pass comprehensive smoke-free laws.”

According to the CDC, an estimated 19.5% of adults in Tennessee smoke, above the national average of 15.5%. An estimated 6.5% of adults in Tennessee use smokeless tobacco or vapor products. An estimated 11,400 Tennesseans die each year due to smoking-related illnesses. 

Smoking-related health care costs in Tennessee top $2.67 billion a year with the state losing $3.59 billion per year in economic productivity due to smoking. The state has one of the cheapest cigarette taxes in the nation at 62 cents per pack, compared to the national average of $1.91.

For more information on state laws surrounding tobacco use or for smoking cessation help, visit https://www.tn.gov/health/health-program-areas/fhw/tobacco/smokefree-tennessee.html.