MG worked with TPEP for five years building support for local and state policy change to protect people from secondhand smoke, encourage tobacco users to quit, prevent youth from starting tobacco use, reduce disparities in tobacco use and health impact, and ensure sustained funding for the program.
We began our work with audience research (focus groups and polling) to explore Oregonians’ attitudes toward tobacco prevention and identify existing, closely-held values upon which to build a campaign. Drawing on values of pride, freedom, independence, and personal choice, we created the SmokeFree Oregon brand and social marketing campaign.
Specific initiatives included:
- Why Wait? a campaign to motivate owners of bars, bingo halls, and bowling centers to take their properties smoke free before the expanded Smokefree Workplace Law required it. We used earned media, point-of-sale and educational collateral, direct outreach to business owners, and public celebrations of smokefree spaces.
- Ongoing earned media. We worked with the state program and provided technical assistance support to grantees to place stories in print, broadcast, and online media around the state. Our work garnered tens of millions of impressions.
- Hookah prevention. When TPEP saw an increase in hookah use among youth, we conducted qualitative research with youth and parents to explore knowledge and behaviors, then developed and implemented an earned media and education campaign to raise awareness. We partnered with the Muslim Educational Trust to ensure that the program respected cultural traditions and engaged community leaders in correcting misperceptions about hookah use.
- Smokefree housing. We provided media advocacy to support passage of policy change requiring landlords to notify tenants of their smoking policies, followed by outreach via earned media, direct engagement, and collateral materials (English and Spanish) to encourage landlords to take their properties smoke free. We also worked with TPEP and another contractor to create a partnership with fire departments to raise awareness of the risks of smoking at home.
- Tobacco-free community colleges. We supported grantees via messaging, outreach strategy, and media advocacy, and secured positive news coverage in the Oregonian to help demonstrate the growing trend and demand for tobacco-free campuses. More than half of Oregon’s community college students now attend tobacco-free schools, a significant step in addressing disparities in tobacco use among communities of color and lower SES communities.
- Cessation policies. We provided messaging and media around endorsement of new recommendations for effective tobacco cessation benefits, and engagement of insurers and employers to adopt and promote the benefit to their insured population.
- Promotion of the Tobacco Quitline. We conducted audience research to understand motivators and barriers to calling the Quitline, then developed new messages and promotional materials in English, Spanish, Simple Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, and Russian.
- Online and social media visibility. We created the SmokefreeOregon.com website and created and maintained the Facebook identity. Each year we increased web visits and Facebook activity, creating ongoing visibility for the program and a way for Oregonians to join the movement.
Metropolitan Group’s efforts for the Tobacco Prevention and Education Program helped maintain strong visibility, support, and action to reduce tobacco’s toll in Oregon and maintain support and funding for this vital program. During our contract period, tobacco consumption consistently went down, more than half of all Oregon community college students now attend a tobacco-free school, availability of smokefree housing increased exponentially, local communities passed smoke- and tobacco-free policies, and calls to the Tobacco Quitline remained at capacity.