State preemption: A significant and quiet threat to public health in the United States

Jennifer L. Pomeranz, Mark Pertschuk

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


State and local governments traditionally protect the health and safety of their populations more strenuously than does the federal government. Preemption, when a higher level of government restricts or withdraws the authority of a lower level of government to act on a particular issue, was historically used as a point of negotiation in the legislative process. More recently, however, 3 new preemption-related issues have emerged that have direct implications for public health. First, multiple industries are working on a 50-state strategy to enact state laws preempting local regulation. Second, legislators supporting preemptive state legislation often do not support adopting meaningful state health protections and enact preemptive legislation to weaken protections or halt progress. Third, states have begun adopting enhanced punishments for localities and individual local officials for acting outside the confines of preemption. These actions have direct implications for health and cover such topics as increased minimum wages, paid family and sick leave, firearm safety, and nutrition policies. Stakeholders across public health fields and disciplines should join together in advocacy, action, research, and education to support and maintain local public health infrastructures and protections.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)900-902
Number of pages3
JournalAmerican journal of public health
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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