Georgia Case Study
Local Comprehensive Clean Indoor Air Ordinance in Georgia
What were the important elements to the intervention's success?
The ACS and the local public health district provided the infrastructure to support the coalition's activities. The two organizations had a mutual understanding of their roles; the local public health district had the resources to gather information, provide technical support and educate, but couldn't lobby. The ACS, and the individual coalition volunteers, could organize/activate grassroots support and lobby.
The coalition was diverse in its membership. Coalition supporters represented the demographics of Albany, and included partners outside the usual health-focused organizations (e.g., youth, the faith community, supportive restaurants). The coalition coordinator was an African American woman with deep roots in Albany.
The coalition had several dedicated volunteers. It also had energetic and committed coordinator, who was a remarkably effective grassroots organizer.
The coalition worked with key city staff members, including the building inspector charged with enforcing the ordinance, and the city attorney. These staff were key to the successful implementation and enforcement of the ordinance. City staff also helped the coalition keep their "ear to the ground", alerting the coalition to important developments on the city commission.
Describe the policy and/or program interventions applicability/replicability to other sites, and include recommendations for other sites.
The Albany Coalition's efforts are relevant to other communities interested in working on local clean indoor air ordinances. Although the bulk of the coalition's activities were organized in defense of their ordinance, these types of events and activities also would be effective in organizing to pass an ordinance.
The Albany Coalition is a good model for coalitions wanting to create a diverse, inclusive membership. Coalition leadership included people of color, and activities (e.g., the Black History month event and the MLK, Jr. march and candlelight vigil,) and framed tobacco issues that were relevant to the African American community. The Coalition engaged African American leadership in the faith community and in the medical community.
Describe the challenges faced, and below each challenge, describe any solutions used to correct or reduce the problem.
Challenge: Responding to business claims that the ordinance would hurt restaurant revenues. Because of the way the state collects tax revenues, advocates could not conduct local analysis of restaurant revenues before and after the ordinance went into effect.
Solutions: Referred to economic impact studies done elsewhere, all of which have found no negative effect on restaurant sales after adopting a smokefree ordinance.
What would you have done differently?
Spent more time developing a grassroots network of supporters before strengthening the ordinance in 1998. One of the coalition volunteers described their efforts as "a constant rear-guard action", noting that "you can either organize up front to pass the ordinance, or after the fact once it's been passed to protect it, but you have to organize." He recommends using the planning and organizing model presented in the Americans for Nonsmokers' Rights publication "Clearing the Air".
Lessons Learned Notes
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