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Bottom-up processes, starting at the local government level, are valuable for more-stringent tobacco control measures. The existence of industry-backed state-level tobacco control preemption in states has impeded policy progress within the state and localities/communities. A national public health goal under Healthy People 2020 is to eliminate state-level preemption across the United States. This study explored individual-level perceptions of the impact of state-level preemption in Appalachian Tennessee—a high-smoking, low-income region. During 2015–2016, a community-engagement project to develop a Population Health Improvement Plan (PHIP) involving over 200 stakeholders and 90 organizations was conducted in Appalachian Tennessee to identify policies/programs to address tobacco use. Using a multifaceted framework approach that focused on prevention, protection, and cessation, interviews and meeting discussions were audio-recorded and transcribed. Content analysis using NVivo 11 was conducted to generate themes. Although the central focus of the PHIP was not preemption, the issue emerged naturally in the discussions as a major concern among participants. Cultural and normative factors in Appalachian Tennessee were identified as key rationales for participants’ aversion to state preemption. Thus, repealing preemption would facilitate culturally tailored and region-specific policies/programs to the high tobacco use among Appalachian Tennessee communities where statewide/nationwide policies/programs have not had the intended impacts.

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.