CPPW · Tobacco Policy

Funded CTG National Networks Announced

by Gustavo Torrez

Program Manager 



I noticed today after my daily checks of the CTG site that they announced the Funded National Networks.  Although we are not among the funded networks, we hope that there will be opportunities for LGBT communities in the future.

Below you will find details of the funded networks and a link directly to the CTG site.

Funded National Networks

The National Dissemination and Support Initiative of the Community Transformation Grants (CTG) program will support, disseminate, and amplify the evidence-based strategies of the CTG program in communities nationwide, including rural and frontier areas and in those areas with health disparities. Seven (7) national networks of community-based organizations received a total of $4.2 million under two separate categories of funding —Dissemination and Acceleration.

Dissemination grantees will support, disseminate, and amplify the evidence-based strategies of the CTG program nationally. Funded organizations will engage and collaborate with governmental, private, and non-governmental sectors and work to disseminate CTG strategies within their national network of local affiliates, including reaching rural and frontier areas and those experiencing health disparities. Four (4) national networks received Dissemination awards:

  • The American Public Health Association is funded $300,000 to disseminate and amplify successful program models and activities in the areas of tobacco-free living, active living and healthy eating, clinical and other preventive services, social and emotional wellness, and healthy and safe physical environments among national partners and members, and accelerate the spread of CTG strategies in communities nationwide by utilizing their existing network of 53 state and regional affiliates. The Association intends to focus this work on communities with less than 500,000 persons.
  • The Asian Pacific Partners for Empowerment, Advocacy and Leadership, a minority serving organization, is funded $300,000 to disseminate strategies addressing tobacco-free living, active living and healthy eating, clinical and other preventive services, social and emotional wellness, and healthy and safe physical environments among Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders nationwide.
  • The Community Anti-Drug Coalition is funded $300,000 to address tobacco use, heart disease, and stroke by disseminating community training strategies regarding tobacco-free living nationwide.
  • The National Farm to School Network at Occidental College is funded $300,000 to address childhood obesity rates by supporting access to and interest in healthy food and farm-to-school initiatives in low-income communities and communities of color nationwide.

Acceleration awards are intended to help spread CTG work across the country and in particular to help reach rural and frontier areas and areas with health disparities. Funded organizations are required to award at least 50% of their funds to local affiliates to support local communities to assess and address CTG health priorities. Three (3) national networks received Acceleration awards:

  • The American Lung Association is funded $800,000 to address the areas of tobacco-free living and healthy and safe physical environments by supporting smoke-free communities in underserved areas within several states across the country.
  • The National REACH Coalition, a minority serving organization, is funded $900,000 to reach communities through a national dissemination and intervention project to transform local service paradigms and improve health. The Coalition will address a full range of policy, environmental, programmatic, and infrastructure strategies in the areas of tobacco-free living, active living and healthy eating, clinical and other preventive services, social and emotional wellness, and healthy and safe physical environments—with a primary focus on African-American/Black, Hispanic/Latino, Asian, Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander, and American Indian/Alaskan Native populations.
  • YMCA of the USA is funded $1,300,000 to advance policy, environmental, programmatic, and infrastructure strategies related to tobacco-free living, active living and healthy eating, clinical and other preventive services, social and emotional wellness, and healthy and safe physical environments, with a focus on serving African-American and Hispanics/Latinos nationwide.
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PopCtr Mtg: Panel Discussion on Probability and Non-Probability Methods

Scoutby Scout
Director, Network for LGBT Health Equity
A project of The Fenway Institute in Boston, MA

SCIENCEBABBLE ALERT – This is a meeting for scientists, despite my efforts, some of this may get technical.

411 on the issue

Probability sampling = getting a group of people for your research that is statistically proven to be a random selection from the full population of interest, thus the statistics support you being able to draw conclusions for the full population based on the info from this random subgroup. (Like if 50% of your probability sample of LGBT people parachute, you can confidently say 50% of all LGBT people parachute.)

Non-probability sampling = any non-random sample of people. (Like if you do a survey at pride, it’s a non-probability sample.) Unfortunately, the statistics then do not support being able to generalize these findings to the full population, because there’s a chance bias might have snuck in. (Like, maybe pride participants aren’t as closeted as other LGBT people, so even if 50% of your sample are in LGBT parachuting clubs, you can’t say 50% of all LGBT people are in such clubs.)

Why’s this a big issue? Probability sample data is the gold-standard for drawing conclusions, but we have much less of this for LGBT people, mostly because LGBT measures aren’t included on the monster federal surveys that are the big probability studies.

Panel Members:

  • Dan Kasprzyk, Ph.D. Vice President of NORC (which I realize is so well known as one of 2 fanciest survey shops that his bio doesn’t even say what NORC stands for… so just know, NORC=surveys)
  • Melissa Clark, Ph.D. Brown University Department of Community Health
  • Margaret Rosario, Ph.D.
  • Jeffrey Parsons, PhD. Hunter University

The Panel

Dr. Kasprzyk led the panel off talking about some of his interesting experiences as part of the Institute of Medicine committee for the recent LGBT report. He emphasized that the choice of probability or non-probability might really not be as important as the reporting and impact of any well-designed study, regardless of the methods chosen. Then he moves onto talking about the federal surveys. “If the federal gov’t added LGBT measures to the American Community Survey, then allowed oversampling, that alone would allow the community to target populations, whether it’s regional, city, rural, you name it, and we’d be much better off. But we have to go beyond NHANES, you have to get on other surveys, NHIS and especially the Labor Force Survey would be very valuable.” He emphasized how important it was to get measures on these large full-probability surveys, “because otherwise you remain invisible.”

“Probability data is very important, it is the gold standard, in Washington, that’s what people are going to listen to. I think the real advancement in healthcare policy comes from really pushing hard with the federal government to have these questions on those surveys, and that point cannot be diminished. I think it’s really important that we actually stay focused on the federal government and become part of that health policy debate.” Dr. Kasprzyk

Dr. Clark followed (that’s Melissa to you and me) and led off by echoing all of Dr. Kasprzyk’s points. She says “”That’s usually how I end every talk I give about sexual minorities, I say ‘please help us get these questions added.'” She talked about her experience at Brown University and how much she’s been working to try to get the non-LGBT researchers to include LGBT measures. Through this effort, she’s managed to take one of the IOM report recommendations and institutionalize it, “Now when there’s a new study, people have to either include sexual minorities or explain why they are not.” Kudos to Melissa, let’s hope NIH follows suit!

Next up was Margaret Rosario. She warns us that while probability samples are important, most of our real explanatory data will come from non-probability samples because they are so much cheaper they have more latitude to go much deeper into issues, explore causal models, etc. For her, the bottom line is either approach can be useful, it’s often an issue of cost, if we have the chance to do the higher costs full-probability samples, excellent, if not, let’s just do excellent non-probability studies. Lastly she also weighs in on the importance of getting LGBT measures on the large surveys, “For the probability studies, please please, whatever we can do to get questions on there, do be able to identify the population as best we can, we should definitely do that.”

The panel was rounded out by Jeff Parsons. He talked about how it always seems there’s a flavor of the day at NIH for the newest rage for sampling, some of which are just never really viable in the field. “You can’t just count every 9th person who goes in the bar and pull them for the study, it doesn’t work.” Tonda Hughes from UIC echoes that sentiment, noting that the popular method, Respondent Driven Sampling, has never worked for her in samples of women.

As the discussion opens up to audience comments, there’s an interesting suggestion from Jim McNally, a director at ICPSR (the Intra-university Consortium of Political and Social Research, probably the largest data library in the country). one of the University of Michigan (ICPSR) scientists… “We recommend people work to create a small strong full probability sample and then ask the same questions you have on the federal surveys. That way you have policy strength to compare to the federal questions.”

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Center for Population Research in LGBT Health Holds Annual Convening

Scoutby Scout
Director, Network for LGBT Health Equity
A project of The Fenway Institute in Boston, MA

My Non-Sampling Error Experience

Ok, I’ve fled from the very exciting Netroots Nation conference to get back to Boston because today and tomorrow mark the 3rd annual convening of one of The Fenway Institute’s other major initiatives, the Center for Population Research in LGBT Health. Not only does this mean I get to hang with some of my farflung friends for two days, not only does it mean the largest gathering of trans health researchers I’ve seen, not only does it mean I get to meet many upcoming researchers involved in the mentorship program, but right now, it’s also the biggest meeting about LGBT research that occurs each year.

I came a little late, so am jumping in as the head of one of the most prestigious survey centers in the country, Dan Kasprzyk of NORC, weighs in on issues related to LGBT sampling. (He was just talking about a non-sampling error experience.) So, I’m going to focus more on the actual content now… but just wanted to start off by giving you a little bit of context to the meeting, because this is a really cool project.

Abstract of Center for Population Research in LGBT Health Project

Previous studies have shown that sexual and gender minorities have higher prevalence of life-threatening physical and mental health conditions, experience significant barriers to health care quality and access, and face substantial threats to quality of life. Population-based research is necessary to more fully understand the causes of these disparities, so that effective responses can be developed. The proposed project’s long-term objective is to create a sustainable capacity for population studies and the translation of results into practice models for sexual and gender minorities. This 5-year effort will be conducted by the Fenway Institute, supported by the Research and Evaluation Department of Fenway Community Health (FCH), a Federally-Qualified Community Health Center. FCH provides comprehensive primary health care and mental health services annually to 11,000 neighborhood residents and students in nearby colleges and to LGBT persons, primarily from Greater Boston. Approximately 55% of patients self-identify as LGBT, reporting sexual or gender minority behavior and/or identity. The project has the following specific aims to develop the infrastructure for population research regarding the health of sexual minorities: (1) develop and support a multidisciplinary faculty to advance the study of sexual and gender minority populations, (2) create a shared research library, to include selected population-based datasets and findings from a large clinical dataset, and (3) disseminate the products of our work through the internet, a monograph, and peer-reviewed journal articles.  A team of researchers with diverse qualifications has been assembled to address these specific aims, with the assistance of a National Advisory Board of experienced population scientists and technical experts. The input and collaborative work of these researchers will lead to a common framework for multidisciplinary scholarship that advances understanding of sexual minority populations and how social, cultural, and institutional factors influence their health. This work will provide a foundation for culturally competent treatment approaches and behavior change models for sexual minorities.

CPPW · Funding · webinar

Dates and Requirements for the Community Transformation Grants, Letters of Intent

Gustavo Torrez, Program Manager

*updated content 6/2/11 12:30pm EST*

by Gustavo Torrez,

Program Manager 

Hello Everyone,

As we prepare for our Health Advocacy Webinar Tomorrow: LGBT Engagement in Local Community Transformation Grants, we want to remind you all of key dates and information for the Letters of Intent required by CDC to be eligible to apply for the Community Transformation Grants.

As I just mentioned applicants are required to submit a Letter of Intent to be eligible to apply for funding. Letters of Intent are only being accepted by mail and need to be received no later than June 6th.

The Letter of Intent (LOI) must be sent by express mail (U.S. Postal Service) or a delivery service to:

Vivian Walker, Grants Management Officer
Department of Health and Human Services
CDC Procurement and Grants Office
2921 Brandywine Road, MS E-09
Atlanta GA 30341


If you do not submit a Letter of Intent or if your Letter of Intent is received after June 6th you will be unable to apply for the funding.

If you think there might be a possibility that you will submit an application or if you would like to let others know you are interested it is a great idea to submit a Letter of Intent. Any information you provide in the Letter of Intent does not dictate the content of your application, nor will it have any bearing on the scoring of your application.

Are you Eligible to apply? If you meet the Eligibility Criteria below then yes, and most of you will meet the criteria. So it is important to submit a LOI for this award so others know that you exist. 

First, all entities listed in Section III, (Eligibility Information) of the FOA are eligible to apply.  These are: state and local government agencies, state and local nonprofit organizations, federally recognized American Indian tribes and Alaska Native Villages, Tribal organizations, which include Intertribal Councils and American Indian Health Boards, Urban Indian Health Programs, tribal and intertribal consortia as outlined and defined in the FOA. 

The Bold items in red below are all items that must be included in your Letter of Intent:

  • Funding opportunity announcement title and number.

~ Title: Public Prevention Health Fund: Community Transformation Grant

~ Number: CDC-RFA-DP11-1103PPHF11

  • So, In order to meet the objectives of the FOA, eligible applications must describe the area be served in the Letter of Intent.  The area to be served must be one of the following
    1.  Large counties, defined as those with populations of 500,000 or more according to the 2009 Census estimates
    2.  States
    3. States minus their large counties
    4. Tribes
    5. Territories

You must indicate one of the five areas described in your letter of intent.

Further clarification on this section and areas to be served can be found by clicking here.

  • Be sure to include the name of the lead or fiduciary agency or organization, the official contact person and that person’s telephone number, FAX number, mailing and email addresses. 
  • Additionally, clearly indicate whether the applicant intends to apply for Capacity Building or Implementation grants.

Capacity Building awards will range from about $50,000 to $500,000, depending on the applicant and the area to be served.

Implementation awards will range approximately as follows:

    • For states, local governments, and nonprofit organizations applying to serve large counties, states or states excluding large counties eligible to apply on their own, awards will range from about $500,000 up to around $10,000,000.
    • For territories, awards will range from about $100,000 to $150,000.
    • And for Tribal and American Indian/Alaska Native Consortia, awards will range from about $100,000 to $500,000.

Below you will find characteristics of a successful recipient of both funding categories, as well as the required activities for each direct from the CDC FAQ page.

Capacity Building Applications

What are the characteristics of a successful recipient of Capacity Building funds?

An applicant applying for Capacity Building funds should have limited or no experience in implementing policy, environmental, programmatic, and infrastructure changes, but demonstrates a readiness to develop the capacity to do so. Steps towards developing capacity include:

    • Establishing or strengthening a multi-sectoral coalition
    • Participating in training on policy, environmental, programmatic, and infrastructure changes
    • Summarizing existing community health data and conducting a health needs assessment of the area, including the identification of population subgroups experiencing health disparities
    • Conducting a policy scan and documenting gaps in existing policies, environments, programs, and infrastructure

What activities will be required of recipients of Capacity Building funds?

Recipients of Capacity Building funds will be expected to demonstrate existing capacity and experience in successfully conducting activities in the following areas:

    • Program capacity
    • Fiscal management
    • Leadership team and coalition development
    • Community health assessment and planning, including the development of a Community Transformation Plan (CTP)
    • Development and implementation of a Capacity Building Plan (CBP)
    • Development and implementation of a core evaluation plan

Implementation Applications

What are the characteristics of a successful recipient of Implementation funds?

An applicant applying for Implementation funds should have the following experience and support already in place:

    • One or more active coalitions with demonstrated success in working with state, community, tribal or territorial leaders, as appropriate to implement policy, environmental, programmatic and infrastructure change strategies
    • Demonstrated efforts to reduce health disparities.
    • Demonstrated ability to meet reporting requirements such as programmatic, financial, and management benchmarks as required by the FOA.

What activities will be required of recipients of Implementation funds?

Recipients of Implementation funds will be expected to successfully conduct activities in the following areas:

    • Program infrastructure.
    • Fiscal management.
    • An established multi-sectoral leadership team and coalition (or coalitions).
    • Selection of strategies.
    • A Community Transformation Plan (CTP).
    • Performance monitoring and evaluation.
    • Participation in programmatic support activities.
  • Furthermore, you must complete the LOI Strategic Directions and Strategies Checklist (Appendix G in the FOA which can be accessed by clicking here

This document provides information on which strategies the applicant anticipates addressing in their CTG application. As mentioned before the information provided is not binding. CDC States “Any change in the strategic directions from those outlined in the LOI and those in the final application will not be held against the applicant”.

  • Finally, indicate whether you will allow the name of your organization and contact information to be provided on a Web site.

We recommend that you allow your information to be posted to the CTG site. This site will be accessible to all applicants who submitted a Letter of Intent. Even if you think you might apply but are not 100% sure yet, submit a Letter of Intent. The information shared will be organized by state to facilitate local connections and collaboration. So even if you are not 100% about applying submit a Letter of Intent and allow others to access your information so you are not invisible as groups are writing their proposals.

Now that you have all the requirements for the Letter of Intent here is the specific Format CDC requires for all Letters of Intent:

The LOI should be no more than two pages (8.5 x 11), double-spaced, printed on one side, with one-inch margins, written in English (avoiding jargon), and unreduced 12-point font.

The Letter of Intent (LOI) should be:

    • No more than two pages (8.5 x 11 inches).
    • Double-spaced.
    • Printed on one side with one-inch margins.
    • Written in English (avoiding jargon).
    • Written in unreduced 12-point font.
    • Include completed copy of the LOI Strategic Directions and Strategies Checklist (Appendix G of the FOA ).

I hope this information helps as you all decide on submitting for this award.

Click here for a list of Frequently Asked Questions if you would like more assistance. There is an entire section on Letters of Intent as well!

Gustavo Torrez

Action Alerts · CPPW · Cultural Competency Trainings · IOM · webinar

State & Cities: New Webinar – 411 on Including LGBT Disparities in CTG Proposals

Scoutby Scout
Director, Network for LGBT Health Equity
A project of The Fenway Institute in Boston, MA

Integrating LGBT Communities in CTG Proposals

Calling all applicants for the coming Community Transformation Grants! Did you happen to notice how many time the Request for Applications asks for information related to local disparity populations? Yes, disparities are a bigger focus in CTGs than was the case in the prior CPPW awards. Have you been watching how the feds have a new emphasis on LGBT folks as one of the routinely addressed disparity populations? Perhaps you caught the new Healthy People 2020 language …

Healthy People 2020 — Overarching Goal: Achieve health equity, eliminate disparities, and improve the health of all groups…

Disparities/inequity to be assessed by:

  • Race/ethnicity
  • Gender
  • Socioeconomic status
  • Disability status
  • Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender status
  • Geography

Or perhaps you caught how the new HHS Tobacco Action plan identifies LGBT people as a priority disparity population? Or maybe you even noticed the following commitment on the HHS website to include LGBT populations in the new affordable care act prevention funding?

“In addition, the Affordable Care Act is funding preventive efforts for communities, including millions of dollars to use evidence-based interventions to address tobacco control, obesity prevention, HIV-related health disparities, and better nutrition and physical activity. The Department of Health and Human Services intends to work with community centers serving the LGBT community to ensure the deployment of proven prevention strategies.” Excerpt from The Affordable Care Act and LGBT Americans factsheet at healthcare.gov.

But while we know some of you have excellent and long-standing relationships and collaborations with local LGBT community leadership, many states are still building their expertise in addressing LGBT disparities. And as we know oh so well, it’s hard to find LGBT data you need to include in proposals!

Let us help you! As one of CDC’s six tobacco disparity networks, we’ve got long experience with helping states and cities build bridges with their local LGBT leadership and we’ve got a secret treasure map to all those LGBT data.

Please join the Network for LGBT Health Equity and the Tobacco Technical Assistance Consortium for a jointly sponsored webinar on how to include LGBT disparities in your CTG proposals.


What: 411 on Integrating LGBT Disparities Into CTG Proposals

When: June 13th, 1 pm EST, 2011

Where:  Please RSVP online to register and we’ll send you call information the morning of the call. If you have issues registering, please email: lgbthealthequity@gmail.com.

Who should register: Community Transformation Grant applicants, but please register in advance so we know how many people to expect. Click on this link or copy/paste in your webinar browser: http://www.zoomerang.com/Survey/WEB22CGJLMYPRF/


  • Data sources for local LGBT health information
  • Why integrating LGBT partners strengthens your proposal
  • How to identify local LGBT partners
  • Examples of successful LGBT policy advocacy campaigns
  • Models for inclusion in CTG proposals and/or action planning
  • Comments from Tobacco Technical Assistance Consortium staff
Questions? Ask them here or email lgbthealthequity@gmail.com.
June 21, 2011 EDIT: We had folks from over 29 states on the call and have sent emails to members of each state connecting with those on the last call and other state experts. We’re about linking people with connections, so if anyone from on or off the call has questions or needs contacts, let us know!
Here are resources from the call:
 Powerpoint Presention: States & Cities: New Webinar – 411 on including LGBT Disparities in CTG Proposals 6/13/2011The call recording: Cities_States CTG Webinar_Jun_13_11

We also have the Presentation and recording from our 6/2/2011 Call:

How to advocate for LGBT inclusion in Community Transformation Grants Webinar 6/2/2011 http://lgbttobacco.org/files/CTG%20Webinar%20Final%20For%20Website.pdfAudio recording of 6/2/2011 Call: Conf_recorded_on_Jun__2_2011__2-50PM

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Breaking News! NY Hospitals Announce Mandatory LGBT Cultural Competency Trainings

Scoutby Scout
Director, Network for LGBT Health Equity
A project of The Fenway Institute in Boston, MA
Reporting from Bellevue Hospital, NY

I’m down here in NYC and very, very happy to be at the press conference where New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation just announced mandatory LGBT cultural competency training for all their 37,000 employees! They also debuted the excellent new LGBT cultural competency video created by our friends at the The National LGBT Cancer Network. The Cancer Network created the full training to be administered to every NYC hospital employee, both the trainings and video are available for purchase or replication. (Don’t forget, the National LGBT Cancer Network is also our collaborator in our brand new LGBT Wellness NYC Marathon team.)

To have the head of all NY public hospitals reinforce that LGBT cultural competency trainings are a mandatory part of good healthcare is historic, let’s hope other cities and hospitals soon follow! See their press release here.

L to R: NYC Councilman Daniel Dromm; Liz Margolies, ED of National LGBT Cancer Network; NYC HHC President Alan D. Aviles, NYC Deputy Mayor Linda Gibbs, and HHC doctor.

Even HHS Secty Sebelius weighed in on what a big deal this is:

“I applaud the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation for its leadership in ensuring LGBT patients are treated with the respect and dignity we all deserve. HHC has offered a path to a fairer America and HHS looks forward to seeing other efforts from care providers from around the country toward that same goal.”

We were also live-tweeting from the event with all play-by-play tweets on @lgbttobacco and @lgbthlthequity with some major help from friends on the ground @cathyrenna and @RennaComm, so check out updates there.

The video shown features the stories of several LGBT people who have experience bias in hospitals and in the healthcare system. You may have already seen an article about these trainings in Huffington Post, and an excerpt of the powerful video can be seen here:

Let’s hope the news spreads fast and other hospital systems follow suit.

See more press about this in:

  1. Advocate Magazine: NYC Hospitals Adopt LGBT Competence Training
  2. DNAinfo.com: New Hospital Program Addresses LGBT Health Woe
  3. New York Times Blog: For Public Hospital Employees, New Training on Gay Patients
  4. NY1: New Program Attempts To Eliminate Barriers For LGBT Patients
  5. Rainbow Access Initiative: Breaking News! NY Hospitals Announce Mandatory LGBT Cultural Competency Trainings
  6. University of Arkansas for Medical Science: Center for Diversity Affairs to Sponsor LGBT Cultural Competency Strategies Webinar
CPPW · social media

Media Tips from the Wisconsin Tobacco Prevention & Control Program

The Wisconsin Tobacco Prevention & Control Program has created a couple of tip sheets for working with the media.I have provided the content of the factsheet here to share with you all. Great work Westconsin!

Media Tip Visiting an Editorial Board

An editorial board meeting is an informal discussion with the newspaper’s opinion page editor or editorial board. Visits are usually face-to-face, but can be accomplished over the phone if schedules are tight.

Scheduling a meeting is a great way to build a relationship with these busy folks.

Who Should Attend?

Limit the number of people attending to no more than three, although one is perfectly fine. Suggested participants include a coalition coordinator, health care representative, business owner, community leader or a state partner.

Come With a Plan

What is the primary purpose for the visit? Is it to educate the editor on a specific issue? Or is it to persuade him or her to write a favorable editorial or neutralize the paper on a contentious issue?

Listen Carefully

Let the editor speak, he or she will undoubtedly have many questions to ask. Listen carefully to what the editor is saying…and asking. This serves two purposes: it builds rapport with the editor and it gives a glimpse of the editor’s views.

Know What You’re Going to Say

Be prepared to discuss your issue knowledgeably and concisely – do not wing it! Editors are busy people who write a column EVERY day. They have minimal availability for editorial meetings, so plan what you want to say and limit your discussion to one topic. If the editor asks specific questions on another topic, then it’s certainly appropriate to respond accordingly.

Leave Behind Fact Sheets

Editors write columns on every issue known to mankind. They’re not experts, but they’re certainly required to write knowledgeable opinions. Leave-behinds are a great way to help them understand issues, share facts and serve as a credible resource in the future.

End With an Ask

Is a favorable editorial the goal? Would the paper consider publishing a guest column on a specific topic? Don’t be afraid – end the meeting with a specific request.

Media Tip
Letters to the Editor / Op-Eds

Three reasons to write a letter to the editor or op-ed:

 We can control what’s printed

 Newspapers are fairly good about running them

 People read them—the opinion page is second only to the front page in readership.

A good letter has three components:

The Lead

Keep your opening paragraph short and punchy.

Two examples:

Leverage News:

“The Centers for Disease Control’s report yesterday showing that smoke-free laws reduce heart attacks is exactly why Our Town needs to act…”


“Bob Smith is entitled to argue that he doesn’t like laws that would protect public health, but he’s not entitled to create his own set of facts. In case he missed them, here are those facts…”

The Body

Use the bulk of the letter to repeat the primary message.

The goal of a letter or column is to repeat our central message, not attack critics.

Our messages:

 Everyone has the right to breathe clean, smoke-free air.

 Tobacco taxes save lives and money

 The Tobacco Prevention & Control Program is paying dividends for Wisconsin’s health

In a letter to the editor, you’ll only have 250 words. The body should include a positive message and a brief background. In a column, you’ll have 500 words. Include four or five paragraphs to summarize your main messages then use facts to back those messages up.

The Conclusion

Repeat the positive message and end with a call to action.

“Smoke-free air is good health policy and good business. We need our community leaders to understand the positive impact smoke-free policies can have on our families, employees, and visitors. In fact, our lives depend on it.”

Writing Tips Letters to the Editor / Op-Eds

Stay Positive

Don’t attack or respond to attacks. Acknowledge an attack only as a vehicle to leverage our positive message.

Keep it Short

Many daily newspapers have a 250-word limit. Columns are now restricted to 650 words, but papers prefer 500. Hit that word count. If you write longer, an editor is simply going to cut it – and you probably won’t like how it was edited. Do the editor’s work in advance, and you’ll likely see your entire piece run.

Avoid Numbers

Overuse of numbers dulls the reader’s eye. Use “about one third” instead of 31 percent. Use comparisons: More people are killed in Wisconsin by secondhand smoke than traffic accidents. If you have to use numbers, use them sparingly.

Tell a Story

If you’re writing a column, use a personal story as an example. That makes the argument real and personal – and much more likely to be read.

Keep it as Local as Possible

Refer to the local situation instead of using statewide statistics on tobacco. Use local statistics, like your legislative district’s Quit Line calls breakdown. The author should be local – and referencing local people or groups is an effective way to ensure papers will use your letter.

Short Paragraphs

You may not have noticed, but newspapers use one and two sentence paragraphs. They do this because the columns are narrow. Large paragraphs turn into large blocks of gray type.

Write Simply

Write as you speak. Write a draft off the top of your head just as you would talk to someone in person. Walk away. Reread it later. Edit it and send it in.

Just Do It…And Encourage Others

The most difficult part of letter writing is getting it done and submitting it to the paper. Letters not written do not get in the paper.

For more information about their program and resouces make sure you check out their webiste at http://www.tobwis.org Wisconsin Tobacco Prevention & Control Program


It’s A New Day

Gustavo Torrez, Network Manager

by Gustavo Torrez

Reporting on the CPPW Conference in Atlanta

Hello Hello Hello, Today is a great day here in Atlanta. I am not talking about the weather, because it’s a little gloomy, but rather the essence of change that is in the room at the annual Communities Putting Prevention to Work (CPPW) Training. When over 1200 people come together for the common goal of advancing the health and wellbeing of our communities its magical. The song “it’s a New Day” by Will I am comes to mind today as I hear of states and local programs struggles with the crises in their states. This song is a reflection of a long awaited change, and Will I Am wrote this song as with the inauguration of Barack Obama in mind.

So, as I sit hear and listed to this song, I think about the work we all do, and the challenges we face day to day striving to better our communities. I think about the roadblocks, the restrictions, the limitations, the struggle, the lack of funds, and the uncertainty of tomorrow! Still, I smile because I know “It’s a New Day”.

United we are here together, we are not alone in our day to day efforts and there is national force working to change our communities for our children and future generations to come.

So, I just wanted to take a moment to share this song with those of you who may not be familiar, and to rejuvenate those who need a little uplifting. Stand Strong, we all know that times are hard and with funding decreasing at a rapid rate, now more than ever we need to unite and collaborate across borders. Remembering that we have each other. We are not alone, know that a new day is around the corner and it will truly be  “A New Day”.



Tobacco Trends in Next Five Years

by Scout
Director, National LGBT Tobacco Control Network
Examples of the 17% of cigs that don't have appropriate tax labels.

Hey y’all, we’re at the closing plenary of the CDC tobacco conference listening to Dr. Andrew Highland give an update of tobacco trends over the next five years. Let me try to match this guys speedtalking with some speednotetaking, ok? (and mucho gracias to him for the visuals in this post).

Tobacco Trends in Next Five Years

  1. More taxes! Currently my tiny home state, lil Rhody, leads the country in cig taxes with a lovely $3.46/pack tax. But… seems like we’re behind the world on average and sincethey’ve found this is one of themost effective tools to help motivate folk to quit, we’re gonna see more and more. Now if they’d just also use the money for cessation, or even just public health bans.
  2. More tax evasion and illegal cigarette commerce. Interesting concept, eh? The speaker gave the example that if he took the rear seats out of his minivan then loaded it with cigarettes from a tax free state then took them to NY, he’d clear about $25k in one run. And as he noted, the penalties are relatively minor. In fact, in a recent study they found that 17% of a representative sample of submitted cigarette packs didn’t have their appropriate tax stamps.
  3. More clean indoor air policies – again to reiterate the main point of the recent Institute of Medicine report, passing a good clean indoor air policy alone can disappear 1/5 of the heart attacks in the region. This is big, and how big it is is relatively new news to the health arena, so look for more work to get these strong policies passed everywhere.
  4. More comprehensive tobacco programs. We know they work, one example was in the 1st 15 yrs of CA tobacco control (ack, he changed the slide, what were those numbers??),
    Example of a store before and after retail ad ban.

    it cost oh (trying ot remember) about $11B and saved about $86B. (<- don’t quote me on that, but the proportions are close, and were those really Bs? Not Ms? I think so.)

  5. Quitting? Quitlines are cost effective, but most folk quit unaided. We should encourage quit attempts, reduce social acceptability of smoking, and focus on clean air policies. Pricing and clean indoor air policies are by far the most cost effective of all cessation activities.
  6. Youth smoking? Little evidence that school based education alone is effective. Little evidence that youth restrictions alone are effective. Policy changes affect youth too, in fact youth are more price sensitive than adults so we should really focus on this tool.
  7. FDA? Light and mild being banned this month. New labels coming in this month. They will also be ramping up enforcement all across the country. But… states can and still should be doing old-fashioned tobacco control. Limiting tobacco outlets and tobacco advertising is still a wide field of opportunity.
  8. What does this all mean for state tobacco control programs? Each state should have clean air, high prices, and a comprehensive program. But after that, there’s a lot of room to get creative. States can limit number of tobacco outlets; limit where ads are placed in a retail setting; and eliminate buy-one-get-one-free offers – these steps may really curb smoking. But, get your warchest in order because there will be legal challenges from you know who.
    Example of how the tobacco companies will convey "Light" cigs without using the newly banned word.

    (<-maybe some of the taxes should be set aside for the legal challenges.) What does the industry think of retail ad bans? Precedent from out of the U.S. shows they will counter with “research” showing ad bans promote organized crime and black market sales. (ask me for the link to the website they’ve created about this “research”, I’d prefer not to put it here.)

Some odd notes

  • On the coming ban on “Light” and “Mild” labeling. The industry is likely to replace the wording with things like “Ultra Smooth” or, in something that’s been shown to be effective, change their box colors so the lighter colors indicate the former “Light” cigarettes.
  • Check out “Urban Wave” on youtube or FB to see some examples of how the industry is creating ‘stealth’ marketing opportunities.


  • We’ve gotta think BIG! We still have 430k tobacco deaths/yr. We know lots of what works; high prices, clean air, and comprehensive programs all work! If you’ve got all that, explore the creative options beyond that. Look at this as an investment in your future, the payoff can be very large in terms of lives and cost-savings, and the faster you do it, the faster the payoff begins.


Good Morning…


There has been so much great information shared at this conference. One of the sessions that I went to talked about MPOWER. This is another common term that is tossed around … like MAPPS this is another acronym that has been identified as a key strategy for our work… Older than MAPPS but still a commonly used acronym for our work…


Monitor tobacco use and prevention policies

Protect people from tobacco smoke

Offer help to quit tobacco use

Warn about the dangers of tobacco use

Enforce bans on tobacco advertising, promotion, and Sponsorship

Raise taxes on tobacco

The presentation addressed Local Responsibility and noted local governments have a statutory responsibility to address tobacco use as a dominant threat to the health of their communities, especially among vulnerable populations such as:

  • Those experiencing tobacco-related disparities
  • Youth
  • Persons with lower levels of education
  • People with substance abuse issues

With that being said I wanted to share some points that focused on Aligning MPOWER policies and local public health accreditation domains

1. Monitor health status and understand health issues facing the community.

●● Local surveillance and analysis of tobacco use prevalence.

2. Protect people from health problems and health hazards.

●● Educate and inform decision-makers about the research on comprehensive clean indoor air legislation and enforce it when implemented.

3. Give people information they need to make healthy choices.

●● Use paid and earned media to educate and inform regarding the dangers of secondhand smoke, especially for children, lactating mothers, and people with compromised cardiac or respiratory health.

4. Engage the community to identify and solve health problems.

●● Develop or support community partnerships to address tobacco use.

5. Develop public health policies and plans.

●● Work with community partners to develop a county plan to address tobacco use including the adoption of evidence-based policies such as expanding smoking restrictions.

6. Enforce public health laws and regulations.

●● Conduct enforcement procedures with tobacco retailers to reduce unlawful tobacco sales to minors.

7. Help people receive health services.

●● Provide training and coordination among all healthcare providers in the county to promote brief cessation interventions and referrals.

8. Maintain a competent public health workforce.

●● Support the attendance of LHD staff at state and national tobacco control conferences and trainings.

9. Evaluate and improve programs and interventions.

●● Ensure that each tobacco control component is being evaluated and is helping the overall program achieve its goals and objectives.

10. Contribute to and apply the evidence base of public health.

●● Publish the results of local tobacco-related surveillance and program evaluation in peer-reviewed journals.

These are some of the main points I wanted to share with you all to digest at the moment hope I did not throw too much at you…