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Am J Public Health. 2002 Feb;92(2):257-65.

Boards of Health as venues for clean indoor air policy making.

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  • 1Institute for Health Policy Studies, Department of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco 94143, USA.



This study sought to determine the tobacco industry's strategies for opposing health board actions and to identify elements necessary for public health to prevail.


Newspaper articles, personal interviews, and tobacco industry documents released through litigation were reviewed.


Twenty-five instances in which the tobacco industry opposed health board regulations were identified. It was shown that the tobacco industry uses 3 strategies against health boards: "accommodation" (tobacco industry public relations campaigns to accommodate smokers in public places), legislative intervention, and litigation. These strategies are often executed with the help of tobacco industry front groups or allies in the hospitality industry.


Although many tobacco control advocates believe that passing health board regulations is easier than the legislative route, this is generally not the case. The industry will often attempt to involve the legislature in fighting the regulations, forcing advocates to fight a battle on 2 fronts. It is important for health boards to verify their authority over smoking restrictions and refrain from considering non-health factors (including industry claims of adverse economic impacts) so as to withstand court challenges.

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