How to Build an Effective Coalition

This week the NYC Coalition for a  Smoke-Free City will join public health colleagues from across the country for the annual meeting of the American Public Health Association.  This year’s theme is Prevention and Wellness Across the Life Span.  Critical behaviors across the life span that will be addressed include healthy dietary habits, physical activity, stress reduction and avoidance of exposure to tobacco and excessive alcohol consumption.

Taking lessons learned from our NYC Smoke-Free Parks and Beaches Advocacy Campaign, the NYC Coalition will share some effective strategies for coalition building.

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The NYC Coalition and The American Lung Association of the Northeast Want You to Breathe More Easily at Home

The American Lung Association of the Northeast (ALANE) has been one of the NYC Coalition for a Smoke-Free City’s longstanding partners in our work to raise awareness of tobacco control issues in NYC.  ALANE serves Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont.  They are part of the American Lung Association, the oldest voluntary health agency in the U.S.

Their focus is on healthy air, tobacco control and all lung disease, including asthma and COPD. Their mission is to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease through education, research and advocacy.

Back in October 2011, ALANE partnered with the Coalition and were joined by local youth in all five boroughs to highlight the presence of tobacco advertising in our communities. For the successful “Take a Walk in Our Shoes” Tobacco Advertising Tour around a number of schools throughout New York City,  we were joined by various community organizations and elected officials.  They were able to witness firsthand the tobacco marketing our youth see on their way to school each day.

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The Coalition Goes International

According to the World Health Organization, tobacco use is the world’s leading cause of preventable death. If current trends persist, tobacco will kill more than 8 million people worldwide annually by the year 2030, with 80 percent of these deaths in low- and middle-income countries. The top five cigarette-consuming countries are China, Russia, United States, Japan and Indonesia. China consumes more than 35 percent of the world’s cigarettes, with 53 percent of males smoking.

This global tobacco epidemic of preventable death, and economic harm will continue to ravage countries and families around the world unless we work together worldwide with a unified voice against Big Tobacco.

Last week, the NYC Coalition for a Smoke-Free City joined international public health professionals, smoking cessation practitioners, academics and researchers working in tobacco control and public health around the world for a two-day conference in Cardiff, Wales, “Innovative Approaches to Tobacco Control.” The conference offered a packed program of tobacco control experts from across the UK and abroad who spoke about the latest strategies, research and innovative approaches to tobacco control.

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NYPIRG and the Coalition: Working in the Public’s Interest

The Coalition is only as strong as our partners.  We depend on the expertise, experience and commitment of some of New York’s finest organizations that work on behalf of the public’s interest.  NYPIRG is one of those organizations.

The New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG) is New York State’s largest student-directed research and advocacy organization. Over the years, they’ve played a key role in fighting for more than 150 public interest laws and executive orders, while training students and other New Yorkers to be advocates.

As we work to increase awareness among community members and policy makers of tobacco control issues, NYPIRG has been an invaluable partner.  In the past, NYPIRG worked with the Coalition on our efforts to reduce secondhand smoke at New York City public parks and beaches, and our partnership continues in our efforts to reduce youth smoking rates.

NYPIRG leads a media training workshop for Bronx community partners.

NYPIRG has been working with the Coalition’s five Borough Partnerships to educate and activate community-based organizations around tobacco control.

NYPIRG created a Smoke-Free Community Education & Media Toolkit as a resource for community groups and public health advocates, whether they are experienced or new to tobacco control issues.  The subsequent Student Smoke-Free Toolkit is an adaptation for raising awareness among campus communities.  We look forward to sharing these resources with our community partners and colleagues both in the City and across the country.

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The LGBT Smoke-Free Project

A new report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows the LGBT community continues to smoke more than the U.S. general population. The results showed 32.8 percent of LGBT people nationally smoke cigarettes, compared to 19.5 percent for the general population.

“Unfortunately, these findings confirm the bad news that LGBT people smoke cigarettes at rates 68 percent higher than the general population and that our overall tobacco use is 50 percent higher,” comments Dr. Scout, director of The Network for LGBT Health Equity.

Scout added: “It’s clearer than ever that tobacco use is one of the largest single health burdens on the LGBT community.”

Here in New York City, the NYC Coalition for a Smoke-Free City has worked with the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Community Center (the Center) for the past three years to raise awareness around secondhand smoke and tobacco marketing targeting youth.  Since the early 90s, the Center has been a true champion working to encourage adult smokers to quit through their LGBT SmokeFree Project.  The Coalition has partnered with the Center to raise awareness not only around the health implications of smoking, but how youth, particularly, LGBT youth, are targeted by tobacco companies to be their next generation of “replacement smokers.”

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