Tobacco Policy Change: A Collaborative for Healthier Communities and States

Dates of Program: June 2004 through December 2010

Field of Work: Tobacco control policies

Problem Synopsis: Policy change is a powerful strategy for reducing tobacco's harm. Yet, tobacco-control policies have been slow to reach groups that suffer disproportionately from tobacco-related diseases, including low-income people; communities of color; tribal nations; and members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community.

RWJF created Tobacco Policy Change to develop new partnerships with organizations experienced in advocacy, policy research, communications and community building to engage grassroots efforts in these communities.

Synopsis of the Work: From 2004 through 2010, Tobacco Policy Change supported organizations in 33 states to create diverse broad-based community coalitions to address a tobacco policy that research had shown decreased use; protected nonsmokers from secondhand smoke; helped smokers quit; or sustained tobacco control at the local, regional, and national level.

Key Results

  • Through the funding and technical assistance of Tobacco Policy Change, many grassroots organizations for the first time became key players in tobacco-control advocacy.

  • Many of the policy campaigns in which grantees participated won policy victories.

    • Some 18 states and communities passed comprehensive smoke-free-air laws during the course of, or just after, coalition campaigns.
    • Ohio, Kentucky, North Carolina, and Vermont passed significant tobacco tax increases
    • Alaska, Kentucky, and Massachusetts passed laws to provide Medicaid coverage for cessation services. California and Oregon launched significant efforts advocating for Medicaid policy changes.
  • Grantee organizations transferred the skills and abilities of tobacco policy advocacy to address other critical public health needs, including childhood obesity, access to health care, outdoor air pollution, radon exposure, intimate partner violence, and workforce wellness.