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 STRATEGY 7 – Modify & Change Policies

These strategies refers to making changes in policy. Policy changes can include formal and informal policies:

  • Formal change in laws, procedures, bylaws, proclamations, rules with written documentation and/or voting procedures (e.g., workplace initiatives, law enforcement procedures and practices, public policy actions and systems change within government, communities, schools and organizations).
  • Informal polices includes the normal practices of individuals and organizations.

These strategies focus on changing policies, laws and procedures aimed at preventing current and future tobacco use. The target audience includes lawmakers, state and local public officials, employers and other involved in setting rules and regulations.

Understanding Laws and Policies:

When seeking to modify or change laws and policies it is important to “do your homework” related to the policies including:

  • Fully understanding the specific law or policy to be addressed.
  • Identify where the laws and policies were enacted (at the national, state, county, city or other level) and which organization or body has the ability to change the law or policy.
  • Identify which organization(s) are responsible for enforcement of the laws or policy.
  • Identify which organization(s) are responsible for following up on the law or policy after the enforcement action.
  • Determine the extent to which the consequences are enforced.

Coalitions and communities can consider the laws and policies that:

Restrict access and availability of tobacco products to underage youth:

  • Work with government leaders to create a city, county or statewide ordinance which are related to retail sales.  These ordinances may address:
    • Licensing requirements for sales or tobacco products
    • Laws about selling to minors
    • Laws about self-service displays
    • Requirements about signs and storefront displays
    • Laws about tobacco packaging
    • Restriction on sales of single serving products (e.g., bidis, hookahs, singles)
    • Restrictions on tobacco product samples
    • Increased penalties against retailers that sell to minors.
    • Prohibit the sale of tobacco products at local pharmacies.

Create smoke-free zones and limit access to second-hand smoke:

  • Work with governmental leaders to establish Tobacco and Smoke Free City, County and State policies.
  • Work with School Districts to establish Tobacco (and Drug) Free Zones on all school properties
  • Establish and support the implementation of 24/7 tobacco-free policies on school campuses, libraries and recreational plazas that provide services for youth.
  • Create smoke free policies inside all buildings and within 25 ft of all public housing
  • Engage the local zoning office to help ensure citizen oversight on how land is used in the community. This is particularly relevant with the increasing presence of “drive-thru convenience stores” in rural communities that are poor and disfranchised.

Address the purchase, possession, use and distribution of tobacco by minors:

  • Work with government leaders to create a city, county or statewide ordinance which are related to tobacco use by minors:
    • Purchasing or attempt to purchase a tobacco product.
    • Possessing or attempt to possess a tobacco product.
    • Using a tobacco product in a public place.
    • Presenting or offering to an individual a purported proof of age that is false, fraudulent, or not actually his or her own proof of age for the purpose of purchasing, attempting to purchase, possessing, or attempting to possess a tobacco product.
  • Examine existing school policies and enforcement efforts.  Determine if the policies are enforced and consequences are consistently applied.

Increase the price and restrict promotion of tobacco products:

  • Work with government leaders to create city, county or statewide ordinances that prohibit point-of-sale promotion and tobacco product couponing.
  • Ensure that Tobacco (and Drug) Free Zones ban advertising within 1000 (or more) feet of a school or church property.
  • Work to get legislation passed that limits the physical location of tobacco products for sale in retail establishments.
  • Work with local and state officials to raise taxes on tobacco products.

Encourage access to prevention and cessation services:

  • School substance abuse policies that include assessment and access to cessation services for both students and staff.
  • Drug Free Workplace policies that include tobacco education and access to cessation services.
  • Employer health insurance policies with coverage that includes smoking cessation services.

Change community norms:

  • Laws and practices that reward tobacco retailers for being willing and eager partners in preventing underage tobacco use.
  • Organize and launch a State Capitol Hill Health Day to promote the passage of tobacco prevention legislation. Ensure that your coalition heavily involves youth in community events like this.
  • Create or share a tobacco use law state report card that compares your state’s activities with other jurisdictions. Use it to educate state and local legislators.
  • Establish and support the implementation of tobacco-free workplace policies by alerting employees of the policy at least 18 months prior, posting visible signage and making the official policy easily available to employees and visitors (include a copy of the policy for all employees, contractors, consultants to sign with other human resources paperwork).