Local Initiatives Toolkit

Local Initiatives Toolkit

A coalition should be built strategically in terms of local power structures. This creates the strongest foundation to educate the community on best practices to generate healthy environments.

This toolkit provides step-by-step instructions to guide coalitions and networks through the local initiative strategy. It contains strategic planning resources for community readiness, action planning, and specific tobacco control focus areas.

Assess the Environment
The Wisconsin Tobacco Prevention and Control Movement works every day to reduce the deadly impact of tobacco. Local coalitions and networks involve passionate individual volunteers, as well as private and public organizational partnerships, that share this goal. To ensure coalitions and networks are using their time and resources most effectively, completing an environmental assessment is necessary to help clarify the community's demographics and needs. An environmental assessment is the first step to building coalition support that will most effectively drive public health practice and social norm change.

Start by completing a Community Readiness Assessment. The coalition may have to complete this assessment several times for different municipalities before deciding which topic is the smartest use of limited resources for public health educational outreach and engagement in coalition development.

Profile Key Local Leaders
Understanding networks of key decision makers and those who influence them in a community helps prioritize effective coalition building. Make a list of key leaders in the village, city, and/or county of focus. Research online which elected body has decision making power, and include those elected officials on the list. Include public administrators (Parks Director, City Clerk, etc.), school administrators, health system leaders, and other relevant business owners. Fill out a Key Leader Profile Form for each person on the list. The profiles are meant to be living documents that will evolve as more information is gathered and new coalition members add their insight. Any time there is a resignation, appointment, or election, update the profile forms. These profiles serve as an important reference as the coalition builds strength by developing connections to key leaders.

Gather Public Health Data
The most useful public health assessments include both quantitative and qualitative data collection. Quantitative data is in a numerical form. Examples include, but are not limited to: tobacco use rates, death and disease prevalence, retail assessment data, and compliance check data. Qualitative data is more descriptive in nature. Methods for qualitative data collection can include observations, focus groups, and key informant interviews.

Results from public opinion surveys are typically referred to as mixed-methods data. They can point to public attitudes, like what might become evident in focus groups (qualitative), and the aggregate results can be analyzed to show statistical significance in public opinions (quantitative). Public opinion surveys are important tools coalitions utilize to not only inform priorities, but also to educate key local leaders on best practices and current trends in public health.

Public health data is most convincing when triangulated. Triangulation means three different sources show evidence of similar trends. As an example, good triangulated data may include (1) retail assessments that show candy-flavored tobacco products at eye-level for young children, (2) FACT members reporting their peers use candy-flavored tobacco products, and (3) survey research where a clear majority of high schoolers say they are more likely to try a candy-flavored tobacco product than a non-flavored tobacco product.

Opportunities exist to partner with academic institutions to collect data for the assessment phase. Reach out to local colleges or universities to explore a partnership. Inquire with SPARK staff to make an introduction for you. Working with local colleges or universities leverages existing coalition resources and provides experiential learning outside the classroom for students. Keep in mind faculty or students may conduct research free of charge for access to the data. Clarify up front any limitations in what the coalition will share with the university and exactly what reporting or analysis the coalition wants in return for university access to the data.

Assess Community Impact
Some communities are disproportionately impacted by the burden of tobacco. An important step in the assessment phase is to analyze specific interventions through a health equity lens. The Racial Equity and Social Justice Initiative at the City of Madison created tools that allow for conscious consideration of equity during the policy process. Fill out an Impact Analysis Tool as part of the assessment. These tools help the coalition examine how communities disproportionately impacted by tobacco will be affected by a proposed action or decision. It is recommended that coalitions utilize the comprehensive equity tool whenever possible, but there is a fast track version of the equity tool that can be used when time does not allow for completion of the comprehensive version. This webinar, presented by Public Health Madison and Dane County, guides users through how to use the Impact Analysis Tool and walks through two tobacco prevention and control examples.

Map Coalition Network
The Circles of Influence Exercise is one very helpful tool for strategic planning around existing institutions and leadership structures. The exercise is a network web meant to identify existing connections between coalition members and decision makers. This exercise works best when completed during a coalition meeting after presenting the key local leader profiles. It can take some time to document every connection, and therefore, this activity may stretch over several meetings.

As the coalition completes this activity, two things will become clear:

  1. Coalition connections to key local leaders
  2. Opportunities to expand coalition membership to strategically connect with decision makers

Case-specific technical assistance may be available to conduct this exercise. Contact the American Lung Association TTA Coordinator to request assistance as far in advance as possible.

Grasstop Callout

Check out the Community Tool Box , which provides additional information about the Community Readiness Assessment phase, from the Center for Community Health and Development at the University of Kansas. The Ten Steps in Information Collection provides a great resource to help gather public health data.

Grasstop Callout

A coalition may move on to the Coalition Building Phase after drafting an environmental assessment, choosing a community of focus, and profiling power structures.

Build Coalition Reach
Before contacting elected officials or the media, the coalition must expand beyond core supporters. Check out the Community Tool Box, which provides additional information about increasing participation and membership, from the Center for Community Health and Development at the University of Kansas. The Coalition Building Toolkit is a great tool to help the coalition brainstorm ways to recruit new organizations and further engage existing coalition members.

Recruit participants and members from diverse backgrounds and viewpoints. Make diversity, particularly community representation of those affected by the issue or problem, a priority in recruitment and outreach efforts. Recommended steps to build the coalition:

  • Refer to Circles of Influence notes regularly and update the diagram as coalition influence expands or key leaders change.
  • Deepen existing relationships with grasstop leaders who are depicted in the Circles of Influence diagram.
    • Schedule one-on-ones with individuals who can influence grasstop leaders.
      • Ask these influencers about their major interests and most important projects, and connect these interests to tobacco control policies.
    • Communicate with influencers by adding them to coalition/network newsletters or by joining their task forces or coalitions.
    • Invite influencers to coalition meetings and events.
  • Identify and fill gaps to specific local leaders.
    • Review their Key Leader Profile Form.
    • Attend meetings, events, organizations that may interest these leaders.
    • Expand the coalition/network to close connection gap.

In this phase, the Coordinator and coalition will need to: conduct activities aimed specifically at recruiting new supporters, train the core group to conduct one-on-one recruitment meetings, present to organizations, have one-on-one meetings with prospective new coalition members, and attend community social events. The Center for Tobacco Policy and Organizing provides a one-page resource for making a pitch.

Prioritize Efficiency
Focus time and effort on relationship building with potential partners who meet the following criteria:

  1. Connection based on Circles of Influence Exercise
  2. Identified grasstop leader
  3. Self-interest in tobacco control

For example, most large employers have connections within communities, have their own constituency, and often employ wellness staff who would have an interest in joining the tobacco prevention coalition. Health systems often employ public health outreach staff, and these corporate professionals often participate in a successful coalition.

Comprehensive Tobacco-Free Schools
Youth cigarette use continues to decline (2004-20.9% v. 2016-8.1%), while e-cigarette use continues to increase among Wisconsin youth (2014-7.9% v. 2016-13.3%). All Wisconsin children deserve tobacco-free schools  – the only policy that promotes zero exposure to tobacco products and nicotine delivery devices on school campuses. Working with schools to include e-cigarettes in their tobacco-free school policies provides an opportunity for coalition building and fostering relationships with school districts.

The below resources may help school districts pursuing this initiative:

Tobacco Retail Licensing Fee (TRL)
Wisconsin state law § 134.65 requires all retail locations that sell cigarettes or tobacco products, not including electronic cigarettes, to obtain a license each year. State law allows communities to set an annual licensing fee and sets the maximum fee at $100. Best practice public health policy includes the maximum fee and directs funds obtained through the tobacco retail licensing process toward local health department prevention programming.

The following resources may be helpful to local leaders pursuing these changes:

Municipal Electronic Cigarettes
After years of enjoying smoke-free workplaces, the Wisconsin public has come to expect clean indoor air. The rising popularity of e-cigarettes has complicated this standard. Communities are choosing to strengthen their clean indoor air policies by including e-cigarettes and "vaping".

Find resources that may be helpful to municipalities below:

Tobacco-Free Multi-Unit Housing
Clear Gains, Wisconsin's smoke-free multi-unit housing initiative, promotes voluntary smoke-free policies in multi-unit housing across the state. Smoke-free housing is about saving property owners and managers money and hassle, and providing residents with a healthier place to live.

Access the following resources to learn more:

Tobacco-Free College Campuses
Virtually all smokers – 99 percent – start smoking before turning 26 years old. Since 2011, SPARK has been providing training and technical assistance to college campuses interested in passing tobacco-free policies. This statewide program offers campus faculty, staff, and students an opportunity to promote a healthier, tobacco-free campus environment.

Learn more through these resources: