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Our Community. Our Voice. Our Health: Progress in Utah.

The American Heart Association scored a big win against preemption!


Many policies that help make communities healthier start locally. Policies that stop, limit, or discourage local communities from enacting policy solutions are referred to as “preemption.” Voices for Healthy Kids works to oppose preemption and believes it is possible for advocates to stand up for local policy solutions, as seen in the progress from Utah:

The American Heart Association (AHA) is working to stop HB 324, a Utah bill that would have allowed states to pass laws to stop, limit, or discourage local jurisdictions from regulating cigarettes, e-cigarettes or tobacco within their own communities.

How did AHA do it? The nonprofit held stakeholder and coalition meetings throughout the legislative session, especially honing in on the critical early weeks of the state’s 45-day session. The coalition strategically targeted several key lawmakers, from city mayors to councilmembers, to lay out their preemption concerns.

They also educated the following of the impacts of preemption under the bill:

  • City mayors within Utah
  • The Utah League of Cities and Towns
  • Their hometown representatives and senators
  • The Utah Medical Association
  • Intermountain Healthcare
  • The Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce

Additionally, ally Mayor Mark Johnson of Lehi City (the first city in the state to enact a T21 ordinance) testified in the Senate Business and Labor Committee about his concerns with preemption.

According to Marc Watterson, AHA’s Government Relations Director, “This experience has been invaluable [because] it truly allowed us to find who our local and legislative champions are on the issue. We literally now have a number of people on speed dial that we could call on a moment’s notice to take up the “anti-preemption charge” for us. We also have had an opportunity to [inform] many legislators who had no idea what preemption was. Now, [they’re] incredibly keyed in on it.”

Need Preemption Resources? Check out our new Preemption Toolkit!