Empowering Community Health

What grassroots can do to tackle second-hand smoke and other public health challenges.

    • October 1, 2009

When concerned citizens in Houston decided to tackle the issue of second-hand smoke in their city, they employed one of the most powerful tools available to community health activists: grassroots organizing. In fact, this successful movement, which mobilized the city’s minority communities to improve Houston’s weak workplace smoking protections, is a model for tackling other public health challenges. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation supports community organizing in a number of public health issues, from advocating for coverage for the uninsured to local efforts to combat childhood obesity.

Houston Communities for Safer Indoor Air (HCSIA) is one example of a growing national movement of grassroots organizations supported by Tobacco Policy Change, a national initiative of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. These organizations are ensuring the continued momentum on effective tobacco control policies and extending that momentum to communities where people are most vulnerable to tobacco's devastating impact. Launched in 2004, the $12 million program reflects RWJF's long-standing commitments to reduce tobacco use and help Americans live healthier lives.

Tobacco Policy Change supports public education, advocacy and organization building efforts. With matching dollars from other funders, Tobacco Policy Change organizations leverage additional resources to achieve policy changes in their community.

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