Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Coalitions Creating Movement Through Dialogue

Beginning in the 1960s, after the release of the first Surgeon General Report, Smoking and Health, people concerned about the dangers of tobacco, secondhand smoke and the tobacco industry’s tactics to promote tobacco use formed coalitions and other advocacy groups across the United States. Over the years, these groups have developed into what many of us know to be the most important force for change in tobacco prevention and control. Working at the grassroots, coalitions are accountable for changing policies which help prevent tobacco-related disease and premature death.

In 2004, one of the first local tobacco prevention coalitions in Jefferson County, Citizens Against Unhealthy, Smoke-filled Environments (CAUSE), successfully advocated for the passage of Arvada’s smoke-free public places law. Since then, more than six adult community coalitions and three youth coalitions have taken up the charge to reduce tobacco’s toll through policy change in Jefferson County. This past year has been no exception. Thanks to the work of the Breathe Easy Wheat Ridge Coalition and the 2013 Smoke-Free Parks Rule, youth, adults, residents and visitors will be able to enjoy smoke-free parks, playgrounds and open spaces in Wheat Ridge. The Breathe Easy Wheat Ridge Coalition worked with both the council and commission while educating the public about the benefit of smoke-free protections. The coalition reported that more people would visit Wheat Ridge parks, bars and restaurants if outdoor areas were smoke-free. Additionally, a group of youth in Wheat Ridge organized a cigarette butt pick-up in Wheat Ridge area parks to raise awareness about the problem of tobacco-related litter. To find out more about the coalition and to get involved, please email

The Healthy Unincorporated Jefferson County Coalition (Healthy UJC) has been working for more than two years to see a stronger smoke-free public places law in the unincorporated areas of Jefferson County. In the spring of 2013, Snip Young, Chair of Tobacco-Free Jeffco and member of the Healthy UJC Coalition joined Dr. Mark Johnson to present the case for a strong, local smoke-free policy to the Jefferson County Commissioners. To find out more about this coalition and to get involved, email

Thanks to the advocacy work of the Lakewood Coalition, light rail riders who take the new RTD rail line that goes west of Denver will enjoy a smoke-free stop in Lakewood. Last year, following a comprehensive education campaign by the Lakewood Coalition, the city council adopted a local ordinance to make outdoor transit waiting areas smoke-free. This includes light rail and bus waiting areas, stops and platforms. Finally, one more smoke-free celebration for a Jefferson County neighbor, Gilpin County. This past January, Colorado celebrated the five year anniversary of its smoke-free casino law, which made all of Gilpin County’s gaming establishments smoke-free in 2008.

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