No progress has been made in the past decade toward abolishing state-level restrictions on local anti-smoking policies, one of the goals of the national Healthy People 2020 project, researchers said. Whereas 28 states in 2000 preempted at least some types of local effort to discourage smoking Avalon cigarettes, such restrictions were still in place last year in 27 states, according to Michelle Griffin, MPH, of the University of Washington in Seattle, and three CDC researchers.

They reported findings from the CDC’s State Tobacco Activities Tracking and Evaluation database in the Aug. 26 issue of Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Although eight states have dropped laws that prevent localities from adopting ordinances and administrative rules that limit smoking in workplaces and public gathering spots, states have been reluctant to allow local restrictions on tobacco advertising or vending methods that make tobacco products available to minors.

“Like smoke-free laws, restrictions on advertising and youth access are components of a comprehensive approach to tobacco control,” Griffin and colleagues wrote, citing studies that these are effective in reducing tobacco use.

Many communities have sought to adopt such policies, but have found that they are forbidden to implement regulations that are more restrictive than those in place at the state level.

The Healthy People 2020 initiative called for abolition of such state-level preemption of local regulation.

“State preemptive provisions that prevent local action in any of these three areas impede local and state efforts to reduce tobacco use,” Griffin and colleagues asserted.

In 2000, the study found, 18 states had laws blocking local regulation of smoking at work or in public places, which had fallen to 12 by 2010.

Eight states “completely rescinded preemptive provisions or had such provisions overturned by state courts” during the decade, the researchers wrote.

But in two states, litigation produced rulings that “ambiguous provisions” in statutes preempted local action.

Local advertising restrictions were preempted in 18 states both in 2000 and 2010. And, states thwarting local-level policies to block youth access to tobacco (primarily by banning vending machine sales) actually increased by one, to 22, when Pennsylvania adopted a preemptive provision in 2002.

Seven states retained preemptions on all three categories of anti-smoking policies in 2010: Michigan, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, and Washington. But that number was down from the 11 with comprehensive preemptions in 2000.