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Promoting the Initiative

Well-planned promotion of the tobacco-free campus (TFC) initiative will help employees become aware of the initiative and its benefits and reduce the number of questions received from employees. A communication plan is critical for providing your planning committee, partners, and management with the most current information about your plans to promote the TFC initiative. This section will discuss:

Developing a Communication Plan

Developing a communication plan and timeline is advisable for smooth implementation. The communication plan can be developed in parallel with the previous steps in this toolkit so that it is ready for use when the planning phase is complete. You may want to consider developing separate communication plans for the policy and cessation services components of the initiative in case the components are not implemented simultaneously.

Below are some sample questions that will help you develop your communication plan:

  • Which modes of communication are most suitable for your employee population?
  • Based on the mode(s) of communication selected, what materials are needed to promote the initiative? Can existing materials be used, or should new materials be developed? Who is responsible for obtaining or developing the materials? For distributing the materials?
  • When and by whom should key tasks be completed?
  • Who will be responsible for tracking and responding to employee questions and comments? What mechanism will be established to encourage employee feedback and questions?
  • Who will evaluate the communication strategies? What data should be collected and kept?

See the example templates (TFC Cessation Services Plan [PDF-140k], TFC Policy Implementation Plan [PDF-136k]) for guidance in developing your communication plan(s). The information in this section and the following sections should help you work through this template for your specific situation.

Key Communication Messages

When promoting cessation services to your employees, take an empathetic approach that recognizes the power of nicotine addiction and focuses on offering support to tobacco users who want to quit. Be careful to avoid stigmatizing tobacco users. Provide information on the cessation services that are available to employees through the organization and their health plan and direct employees to free health education resources (e.g., and your state's quitline, which can be accessed by calling the National Network of Quitlines (1-800-QUIT-NOW, 1-800-784-8669). Promotional materials should also include contact information so that employees can ask questions and request additional information while maintaining their confidentiality.

Communications and publicity about the policy should clearly explain its rationale and provisions. Specifically spell out where and when the policy does and does not apply. Reiterate the organization's commitment to helping tobacco users who want to quit and refer employees to additional sources of information on cessation services.

Potential Communication Strategies

Communication strategies will be influenced by the size of the organization, the number of campuses, and the amount of education needed (as determined by the employee survey). Consider distributing promotional materials and information through various channels. Develop strategies that are specific to and appropriate for each component of the initiative, but look for opportunities to promote the initiative as a whole, and its pro-health message.

General Strategies

  • Announcements — Depending on the size of your organization, you might want to consider staff meetings, inter-office mail, organization-wide e-mail announcements, video announcements, and articles in the organization's newsletter to inform employees about the TFC initiative. It is important for key announcements to come from top management to show that the TFC initiative is an organization priority.
  • E-mail Box — Provide employees with a way to ask questions, make comments and complaints, report violations, and request additional information. Designate a dedicated staff person to respond to these e-mails. Consider having a designated manager review these responses, at least initially, to make sure that the information provided is accurate and the tone is appropriate. Develop several standard responses that can be used for common concerns.
  • Frequently Asked Questions — Develop a 1- to 2-page document with anticipated frequently asked questions (FAQs). Monitor the questions received through the TFC e-mail box and modify the document as needed. Post the questions and answers in a public forum, such as an Intranet site, and retain them for internal use to save time and ensure that questions are answered in a standard manner.
  • Intranet Web Site — A dedicated Web site can serve as a gateway to all TFC initiative information. It should include links to the final text of the policy, information on cessation services and how to access them, and other materials and resources developed for the initiative. This site should be featured prominently in all TFC communications.
  • New Employee Orientations — Work with the appropriate office in your organization to incorporate a brief description of the policy and available cessation services into mandatory new employee orientations.
  • Payroll Stuffers — Develop a payroll stuffer with information about the TFC policy and cessation tips and resources.
  • Table and Bulletin Board Displays – Set up displays featuring information about the TFC initiative and special promotional items (e.g., lanyards, buttons, stickers, and balloons featuring an initiative logo or symbol; sugar-free mints, candy, and gum) on the day of the launch.

Cessation Services Strategies

  • photo of printed materials on displayHealth Education Printed Materials — Develop health education materials specific to your employee population or obtain booklets and brochures from CDC, the National Cancer Institute (NCI), the Department of Health and Human Services, the American Cancer Society, the American Lung Association, the American Heart Association, or other governmental agencies and voluntary organizations. Many of these materials can be ordered online and are free. Materials are also available in a variety of culturally sensitive versions that are tailored to specific population groups. Click here for a list of the health education materials that CDC made available as part of the its initiative.
  • Information Kits — Provide an initial package of materials to employees upon request. This package should include a selection of health education materials, a list of cessation programs and services offered at your worksite and by other organizations in your community, the number to your state quitline and culturally-sensitive health education materials, as appropriate. Also consider including a list of available tobacco use cessation medications (both over-the-counter and prescription).
  • Flyers — Develop flyers to inform employees about the expanded cessation services. Consider including "tear-off" sections with the numbers for your organization's internal tobacco use cessation resource line, the state quitline, or the National Network of Quitlines.
  • Posters — Obtain or develop posters that promote tobacco use cessation. CDC offers two posters about the benefits of tobacco use cessation: "Within 20 Minutes of Quitting" and "The Benefits of Quitting." Click here for ordering information.
  • Resource Line — Set up a special phone number for your program office or featuring an automated message where employees can obtain information on available cessation services. This number should be featured prominently in all TFC communications.
  • Special Presentations — Host a "lunch and learn" or seminar on the benefits of tobacco use cessation, how employees can access assistance and resources to help them quit, and how to support friends and family members who are trying to quit. Consider videotaping the presentation and providing copies of the video upon request.
  • Success Story Testimonials — Testimonials can provide inspiration and practical tips to employees who are struggling to break a tobacco addiction. Ask employees who have successfully quit to share their stories in your organization's employee newsletter or on its Intranet site.

Policy-Specific Strategies

  • Photo of a converted smoking shelter special eventCampus Signs – Once the policy goes into effect, permanent outdoor signs should be posted at all automobile and pedestrian entrances to notify employees and visitors that the campus is tobacco-free and that the use of tobacco products on the grounds is prohibited. These signs should be easy to read and in highly visible locations. If signs cannot be installed by the time the policy takes effect, consider placing temporary banners at the campus entrances. Post decals on building doors stating that buildings are tobacco-free.
  • Health Ticket – Develop a one-page "health ticket" with information about the TFC policy and cessation tips and resources. Have those responsible for enforcing the policy hand it out to employees or visitors who are observed using tobacco in prohibited areas while on campus (see Implementing the Initiative for more information on enforcement activities).
  • Maps – Provide a map (or maps if more than one location is involved) clearly showing property lines and exactly where the use of tobacco products is and is not allowed. This is especially important if the policy does not apply to the entire property.
  • Policy Information – Provide all employees with a copy of the policy. Place a form in each employee's file stating that the employee has received a copy of the policy and enforcement procedures and has agreed to abide by the policy.
  • Question and Answer Session – Provide a question and answer session for employees.
  • Special Events – Schedule one or more special events on or shortly before the date that the TFC policy takes effect to celebrate its implementation. For example, CDC held a ceremony to convert a smoking shelter into a covered bicycle rack. The event symbolically marked the transition to a healthier campus while on a practical level promoting an increase in physical activity and alternative modes of transportation.

Next Steps

After you have completed the communication plan(s), your next step is to plan for the implementation of your TFC initiative and prepare for its ongoing operation.

TFC Example Tools

Other Helpful Information

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