Until the nonsmokers' rights movement, tobacco control activity was at the federal or state levels, which is where the tobacco industry dominates. Since the appearance of the nonsmokers' rights movement, progress in tobacco control has occurred primarily at the local level. In response to the success of this movement, the tobacco industry has developed "smokers' rights" groups and other tactics to fight local legislation. Several recent local campaigns in California illustrate these tactics. Tobacco control forces follow many paths, from sitting on the sidelines to making a serious commitment to smoking control legislation. Despite the tobacco industry's superior financial resources, the outcome of proposed local tobacco control legislation appears to depend on how seriously the health advocates mobilize in support of the local legislation. When the health community makes a serious commitment of time and resources, it wins. When it fails to make such a commitment, the tobacco industry prevails, more by default than by its superior financial resources.