237978 Challenges in Executing a Smoke-Free Policy Campaign in a Conservative Environment: How a Political Party Derailed the Health Message, and Other Important Lessons Learned

Monday, October 31, 2011: 1:30 PM

Sarah Kercsmar, PhD , College of Nursing, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY
Michelle Eversole, MPA , Division of Community Health Promotion, Northern Kentucky Health Department, Edgewood, KY
Ellen J. Hahn, PhD, RN , Tobacco Research and Prevention Program, University of Kentucky College of Nursing and College of Public Health, Lexington, KY
Sometimes, even with the best of intentions, a local smoke-free campaign goes awry. This is a case study of lessons learned over a 3-year period in Northern Kentucky that have implications for smoke-free campaigns. The first mistake was conceding to a contingency approach. Elected officials from three contiguous counties insisted on considering a smoke-free ordinance at the same time. The coalition planned campaign activities to work within the contingency approach, rather than focusing on best practice for policy advocacy. The next challenge was attempting to mount 3 separate campaigns using one coalition. While training volunteers and using a consistent message was easier with one coalition, it was challenging to keep a single group of volunteers motivated to fight 3 lengthy battles over multiple years. Finally, the changing political environment and strong, well-funded opposition from a political party greatly affected the campaign. We were not prepared nor did we have the energy to successfully counter this well- organized anti-health movement. Ultimately, the health message was lost in the debate over property rights and government intrusion. In the end, ordinances were passed in 2 of the 3 counties – one comprehensive with strong potential for repeal, and one with a drinking establishment exemption. The coalition traveled the bumpy road with humor and grace and found limited success and has many lessons to share with other policy advocates.

Learning Areas:
Advocacy for health and health education

Learning Objectives:
Discuss the pitfalls of mounting a multi-county smoke-free campaign. Identify ways to keep volunteers motivated over time. Describe the Tea Party’s influence on smoke-free policy.

Keywords: Tobacco Policy, Community Capacity

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am qualified to present because I was a member of the coalition being discussed and I work for the Kentucky Center for Smoke-Free Policy
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.