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Tobacco Control Coalitions Should Celebrate in 2014!

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Smoking causes a host of cancers and other illnesses and is still the leading preventable cause of death in the U.S. (CDC, 2010). 2014 marks 50 years after the first Surgeon General’s Report on Smoking and Health was released. Since then, smoking prevalence among U.S. adults has been reduced by half and the majority of Americans are protected by smoke-free laws in their state or local community (CDC, 2010).

For over 3 decades, tobacco control coalitions have mobilized communities to participate in tobacco free initiatives, combat the tobacco industry, and change the culture around tobacco. After the release of the landmark Surgeon General’s Report, individuals concerned about the health effects of tobacco and secondhand smoke and alarmed at the tobacco industry’s tactics to promote tobacco use, formed nonsmokers’ rights groups across the U.S.  Eventually, these groups evolved into tobacco control coalitions that work at local, statewide, and national levels.

Anit smokingCoalitions focus on changing policies, systems and environments. The factors that most influence tobacco use initiation and cessation include: high tobacco taxes, anti-tobacco media campaigns, negative social acceptability of smoking, and limitations on where tobacco use is permitted and how it is accessed (CDC, 2010). Based on these factors, tobacco coalitions have implemented strategies to change behavior by changing policy, community education & mobilization, counter marketing and media advocacy.

Making the case for tobacco control coalitions. Through the efforts of tobacco control coalitions in every state, over 70% of Americans are protected from secondhand smoke due to smoke-free laws and ordinances; half of the states have implemented a tobacco tax of $1.00 or higher; and the tobacco industry is continually exposed for marketing to underage youth, manipulative advertising, and using other deceptive tactics (CDC, 2010). In your work, use the following points to make the case for tobacco control coalitions (CDC, 2010):

Coalitions’ long history and wide adoption as community interventions enhance the reach of tobacco control efforts. Science supports coalitions as an effective community intervention. Tobacco control coalition efforts change social norms through policy change, which leads to decreased morbidity and mortality.

Coalitions are low cost, but their efforts result in a high return on investment. While the financial investment in coalitions is fairly low, the return on investment is high considering the effects tobacco control policies and well-funded programs have on preventing initiation of tobacco use and increasing cessation. Successful coalitions are able to effectively leverage their resources (e.g., volunteer time, services) and member expertise.

Coalitions contribute to program sustainability. Through their advocacy role, coalitions are able to build political and public support for tobacco control programs, help secure and maintain tobacco control funding, and advocate for policy change.

What can you and your coalition do to commemorate this milestone?Smoking Banner

To commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the Surgeon General’s Report on Smoking and Health, the Office of the Surgeon General developed several resources to help you promote and share highlights from the last 50 years of tobacco control efforts. You can be a part of the effort to share information on the dangers of tobacco use by accessing these resources: http://www.surgeongeneral.gov/initiatives/tobacco/resources.html

References

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2010). Coalitions: State and Community Interventions. Best Practices for Comprehensive Tobacco Control Programs User Guide. Atlanta, GA:  http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/stateandcommunity/bp_user_guide/pdfs/user_guide.pdf

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2014). Surgeon General’s Report on Smoking and Health. Wahington, DC.  http://www.surgeongeneral.gov/initiatives/tobacco/index.html