When the Hidalgo County TPCC formed in February of 2014, only one smoke-free ordinance had passed within the county. Today, 17 communities are 100% smoke-free.
“Even though there are separate cities in the county, the Valley is like a large community,” said Bowen. “So every time a city passed one, it encouraged another to take it up.”
She credits the combination of grassroots efforts and support from American Heart Association, the American Cancer Society, Texans Standing Tall, and other organizations for their success.
“It took research and planning from the AHA and ACS combined with a lot of one-on-one meetings to convince civic leaders that their communities wanted this,” Bowen added.
The movement built up slowly, with the cities of Edinburg, Pharr and Mission creating smoke-free ordinances from 2014-2016. Then in 2017, momentum took over, with at least one ordinance a month being passed.
Having coalition members committed to creating smoke-free communities was the major factor in making Hidalgo County virtually smoke-free. Every agenda, handout, or email from members included updates on what was happening in cities. So when McAllen had a public hearing, they had over 200 people show up.
The coalition realizes that even with this success, their work is not over.
“There will always be more work, there will always be opportunities,” said Mrs. Bowen. “We hope the community is proud and will take ownership of some projects to continue working on enforcement and implementation.”
Texans Standing Tall understands that passing and enforcing comprehensive smoke-free ordinances is hard work, but we also believe that Texas cities are up to the challenge of implementing changes that help create healthier, safer communities – Gilda Bowen and the Hidalgo County TPCC are living proof of that. If you’re interested in learning more about passing a comprehensive smoke-free ordinance in your community, please contact Steve Ross at sross@TexansStandingTall.org.
In 2016, Texans Standing Tall received a grant from the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) to conduct a statewide assessment to help identify potential areas of collaboration between the traffic safety community and substance use prevention coalitions, and to develop an interactive tool to help connect coalitions and traffic safety experts.
This month, after conducting interviews with more than 50 prevention coalition leaders and traffic safety experts, analyzing findings, and collaborating to build an interactive web site, Texans Standing Tall launched Engage for Community Change.
On the website, people looking to connect with coalitions can search for one another by location, community type, or areas of focus. The goal is to help coalitions and communities leverage scarce resources for addressing problems in their communities that stem from underage alcohol and other substance abuse.
Coalitions have been integral to the passage of city social host ordinances that hold people accountable for underage drinking parties that occur in their homes or on their property. Texas leads the nation in the number of drunk driving crashes. Coalitions can have a potentially huge impact on reducing impaired driving, and we know that this tool can serve to assist businesses, agencies, nonprofits, and concerned citizens in making our communities safer.
Through the Engage for Community Change project, Texans Standing Tall hopes to help increase collaboration between coalitions and traffic safety experts in the state of Texas. If you have any questions or want your organization to be included in the project, please contact Kaleigh Becker, Research & Program Specialist, via email at email@example.com or at 512-442-7501.
Our 2017 Statewide Summit was a success – thanks largely to you all for joining us on May 1st and 2nd in Austin, Texas, for the event! With help from a range of national and state experts, participants grew their knowledge on a number of prevention issues, such as fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD), best practices for tobacco prevention and control, addressing binge drinking on college campuses, the relationship between mental health issues and prevention, and more. In case you weren’t able to join us for Summit this year, TST staff members have put together some of the main takeaways from each of the presentations – check it out below!
Don’t forget to mark your calendars for our 2018 Statewide Summit, which will take place February 21-22, 2018, at the Austin Marriott South. We hope to see you there!
A Community’s Response to Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder
Nora Boesem | Founder, Roots to Wings
After flight delays, flight cancellations, and an impromptu road trip with a fellow stranded passenger, Nora Boesem finally made it to Summit – and we sure are glad she did! Sharing her story as a foster mother to more than 100 children with FASD, Nora inspired attendees to step into the role of advocates and ACT. In addition to learning about the amazing work Nora does as a mother and in her community, her presentation also taught us:
FASD is a physical disability with behavioral symptoms; it does not go away and it is not outgrown.
Raising and working with individuals who have FASD sometimes means trying differently rather than harder to address some of the behavioral issues encountered.
The effects of FASD are far-reaching and can result in genetic changes that are passed from one generation to the next.
We can see positive changes in our communities when we work together, but it’s important to remember change takes time – patience and perseverance are often required.
Following the Money: How Industry Influences Policy
Jennifer Cofer, MPH, CHES | Director, EndTobacco Program, MD Anderson Cancer Center
Bob Pezzolesi, MPH | Founding Director, New York Alcohol Policy Alliance
Jennifer Cofer and Bob Pezzolesi gave Summit participants insight into the history of how alcohol and tobacco industries influence government policies to promote their own agendas. The presenters brought years of experience in public health, prevention, and the promotion of science-based, public health policies. Participants left with a greater awareness of the major industry contributors to elected officials and policies as well as how the industry impacts national, state and local prevention policies. These takeaways allowed participants to return to their communities empowered with knowledge of industry financial influence and encouraged to advocate for vital public health policies. Additionally, Jennifer and Bob shared some specific resources advocates can use when trying to follow the money:
To learn more about how the tobacco industry influences policy, visit no-smoke.org.
To explore how much money the alcohol industry gives to different politicians and political organizations, check out followthemoney.org
Don’t forget: You have to speak up/advocate so the tobacco and alcohol industries are not the only ones with influence!
Broadcasting Your ACTions
Dave Shaw | President, Arrow
Thanks to Dave Shaw, President of Arrow Media, Summit attendees got an expert crash course on developing messages to gain supporters and move prevention strategies forward. Ultimately, he encouraged us to ask ourselves who our key audiences are, what they care about, and what we want them to know. Dave’s presentation also reminded participants that crafting a strong message relies on:
Considering these factors about your audience:
Where are they from?
What do they know about you?
What keeps them up at night?
How much do they know about the topic?
Why should they care?
What is their number one concern?
Knowing your story really well and understanding what you want people to take away from the conversation.
Remembering that the message and the messenger matter.
A solid process for message development and delivery. This should consider:
The problem, solution, and benefit.
What is the size and scope? Who does it impact?
What difference can we make?
What’s in it for your audience?
The main takeaway, how to connect, and what proof you have.
What do you want people to feel/do?
How do you get people to listen?
How do you make people believe? (Evidence/Data)
Blowing the Whistle on Youth Alcohol Marketing
Youth Leadership Council | Texans Standing Tall
This year, the Youth Leadership Council (YLC) gave two fantastic presentations during Summit, covering topics from alcohol advertisements targeted at youth to effectively engaging youth in prevention activities. During their plenary presentation on alcohol advertising, we learned that:
Alcohol companies spend over 2 billion dollar a year on advertisements.
1 out of every 5 alcohol advertisements appears on programing that youth ages 12 to 20 are more likely to watch.
References to alcohol are very prominent in music, from country to rap.
Alcohol companies use cultural references to entice customers.
Youth are especially vulnerable to these types of advertisements because they are new and inexperienced customers.
Community prevention advocates can monitor advertisements in their community, especially around schools and in places youth are more likely to see them.
The YLC also presented during an interactive breakout session on day two of the Summit. They discussed important practices organizations can employ for effective youth engagement:
Involve youth in recruitment efforts to increase the size of a youth group.
Have an application process, letter of agreement, and clear guidelines for communicating roles and expectations to help retain youth members over a longer period of time.
Let youth work with adult members to make decisions about which projects they will be involved in and what their roles will be.
Allow youth to learn and grow leadership skills.
Practice positive group characteristics, such as setting clear responsibilities and expectations, learning how to work together as a team, and establishing clear lines of communication.
Use the “Ladder of Participation” to assess progress and examine how youth and adults can work together more effectively.
On a related note, in the Fall, Texans Standing Tall and will be providing a new Community engagement guide (with accompanying trainings) that provides more in-depth information on youth and adults working together to achieve effective partnerships. Please contact Georgia Marks at firstname.lastname@example.org or 512.442.7501 for further information.
Best Practices Make Perfect
Karla S. Sneegas, MPH | Program Service Branch Chief, Office on Smoking and Health – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
We were excited to welcome Karla Sneegas to talk about the CDC’s recommendations for best practices in tobacco prevention and control. From Ms. Sneegas, we learned:
Tobacco use remains a considerable public health problem nationally and in Texas, where it costs almost $9 Billion a year in medical care and loss of productivity. Every year, over 28,000 Texans lose their life prematurely due to smoking.
The CDC recommends that Texas spend $10.13 per person per year on tobacco control. However, the state currently spends only $0.47 per person.
By following the CDC’s Best Practices for Comprehensive Tobacco Control Programs, states can effectively and comprehensively attack the problem.
There are five main components to a comprehensive tobacco control program:
State and community interventions
Mass-reach health communications interventions
Surveillance and evaluation
Infrastructure, administration and management
Bottom line: we know how to implement better interventions, more efficiently, with a stronger evidence base and a greater reach. Now we just need to reach the recommended funding level for a sustained tobacco control program to most effectively reduce tobacco use.
Promoting Community Standards to Address College Binge Drinking
Toben Nelson, ScD | Assoc. Prof., Epidemiology & Community Health, Univ. of Minnesota School of Public Health
This year, we were so excited to have Dr. Toben Nelson join us at Summit! It was incredibly helpful to have him share strategies for building partnerships between colleges and communities to implement effective prevention strategies. He opened a dialogue between our current campus partners and prevention coalitions in their communities, which was also a huge advantage of having him with us. Dr. Nelson also encouraged those of us in the prevention field to:
Reframe how communities and colleges think and talk about environmental strategies.
View policies as community standards and enforcement as what makes everyone accountable to those standards.
Use existing tools in our collaboration efforts.
Up in Smoke! Tobacco Prevention Funding
Joel Dunnington, MD, FACR | Retired Professor of Diagnostic Radiology at UT, MD Anderson Cancer Center
Dr. Joel Dunnington brought his wealth of knowledge to Summit and provided an overview of the Tobacco Settlement Funding, its intended purpose, and how it’s actually been used. Participants also learned how much could be accomplished if funding levels were closer to the CDC’s recommendations so they can take action and help move Texas closer to the recommended levels. Participants also learned:
In Texas, the Tobacco Settlement Funds established the Permanent Fund for Health Tobacco Education and Enforcement
In 2011, the 82nd Legislature expanded the use of the three Permanent Funds, including the Permanent Fund for Health Tobacco Education and Enforcement, to pay the principal or interest on a bond for the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas. As a result, the Permanent Fund for Health Tobacco Education and Enforcement will be zeroed out at the end of FY2018.
And the Survey Says? Results from TST’s Alcohol Excise Tax Survey
Matt Gamble | Vice President of Operations, Baselice & Associates
Matt Gamble, Vice President of Operations at Baselice and Associates, gave a presentation sharing the results of the Texans Standing Tall’s recent statewide survey. The survey measured voters’ overall attitudes towards an increase in the alcohol excise tax, what programs they think should receive the estimated $708 million in additional revenue, and what messages respondents found most persuasive. Many were surprised to learn:
A majority of Texans across all demographics and regions support the initiative.
Despite conventional wisdom saying otherwise, most Texas voters do not shrink at the term “tax” when it comes to raising alcohol excise taxes.
Women and regular churchgoers are most supportive of an increase in alcohol excise taxes.
Texas voters responded most favorably to economic and public health messages that discussed how:
The alcohol excise tax has not been raised in Texas since 1984.
Excessive drinking costs the state $19 billion/year and each Texan $695/year.
A dime a drink increase in alcohol excise taxes could improve public safety by decreasing impaired driving and motor vehicle crashes/fatalities by 112/year.
Increasing the alcohol excise tax benefits public education by providing additional $177 million/year for schools.
Ending the Stigma of Co-Occurring Conditions
Noah Abdenour, Certified Peer Specialist | Director of Peer Support Services, Austin State Hospital
Noah Abdenour presented on the intersection between prevention and mental health, taking a special look at the relationship between prevention and recovery. By sharing his personal story, Noah was able to reinforce the theme of deciding to A.C.T (Accomplishing Change Together). His journey included examples of how peers played an integral role in helping him transform his life. During his presentation, we also learned that:
Co-occurring disorders are when somebody has a mental health condition and substance use issue at the same time. He emphasized how co-occurring disorders can be difficult to diagnose due to the complexity of symptoms. He also mentioned that one can often times mask the other, and vice versa.
Prevention can play a role in behavioral health by helping people maintain self-care and wellness.
Current issues with the behavioral health landscape in Texas include lack of access to care, workforce shortage, inadequate training for some behavioral health professionals.
Communities in ACTion (Panel)
Tom Marino | Social Host Workgroup Chair, Circles of San Antonio Coalition
Tracy Talavera | Coalition Coordinator, Circles of San Antonio Coalition
Gilda Bowen | Coordinator, Uniting Neighbors in Drug Abuse Defense Tobacco Prevention & Control Coalition
Rosalie Tristan | Communities Against Substance Abuse Coordinator, Behavioral Health Solutions of South Texas
Ed Swedberg | Deputy Executive Director, Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission
Michael Sparks, Moderator | President, Sparks Initiatives
The Communities in ACTion focused on how local communities are acting to create change through ordinances, story-telling, and enforcement efforts. Michael Sparks, national alcohol policy expert, moderated the discussion, which included Circles of San Antonio staff and coalition members, UNIDAD Tobacco Prevention and Control Coalition staff and volunteers, and the TABC Deputy Executive Director. This highly accomplished and motivated panel discussed different factors essential for community change:
Relationship building within the community is critical. Without these relationships in place, the strategy, no matter how effective, will inevitably fail.
A strategy requires an additional emotional catalyst to draw the community in. Relevant personal stories drive the strategy forward by placing a human face on an emotionally inaccessible, typically data driven issue.
Upon implementation, a policy is only effective when thoroughly enforced.
Compliance checks are way to address underage drinking in communities.
Coalitions can work with TABC and the local police by reporting stores and bars that repeatedly violate the law by selling to minors.
In addition to the plenary sessions highlighted above, Summit attendees also had the opportunity to participate in breakout sessions on both days of the event. During the breakouts, participants were able to work more closely with our expert speakers to further explore the presentation topics and how they can apply the information to their prevention work at home.
If you have any questions or would like additional information about the Texans Standing Tall’s Statewide Summit, please contact us at 512.442.7501 or email@example.com.
SAN ANTONIO- San Antonio City Council unanimously passed a civil social host ordinance today during their city council meeting. Austin-based non-profit Texans standing tall (TST) was instrumental in helping Circles of San Antonio Community Coalition (COSA) organize their community to bring the issue of underage drinking to the attention of the San Antonio City Council.
Alcohol remains the most abused substance by youth in the state of Texas. Social access is the number one way underage students get alcohol. According to the Texas School Survey, 22% of students grades 7-12 get their alcohol at parties. Additionally, 74% of college students report getting alcohol from a friend as reported in the Texas College Survey of Substance Use.
Youth alcohol abuse is associated with unplanned sexual activity, sexual assaults, fights, impaired driving, homicides and suicides Testimony by concerned citizens reflected what is indicated by the data.
COSA and TST organized 16 speakers to address the San Antonio City Council on the impact that alcohol is having on San Antonio youth in the community at large. Those speakers highlighted testimony from parents, youth, PTA, paramedic, and other community members who had faced the negative consequences of parties hosted by “well intentioned” adults. The stories included rapes, teen pregnancies, and first responders to deadly car crashes.
A civil social host ordinance is a city level policy that addresses underage alcohol abuse by allowing police officers to fine hosts of underage drinking parties when they are called for service. San Antonio’s social host ordinance is a comprehensive approach to addressing youth social access and serves as a model ordinance for the state. “San Antonio is the largest city in the country to pass a civil social host ordinance,” TST’s Strategy Specialist Brian Lemons said. “It sets the standard for cities across the state to adopt model social host ordinances that are effective and enforceable.”
Councilman Rey Saldana championed and introduced the bill to the city council. The ordinance passed the city’s safety committee earlier this year and the Chief of Police William McManus presented the ordinance to the city council at today’s meeting. Council members reflected on their personal experiences with underage drinking parties. Their concern for youth well-being was heightened once the critical nature of this problem was brought to their attention by those presenting testimony.
High school senior, Kayleigh Stubbs brought personal experience to the council. “I see the “snaps” posted on Snapchat, inviting people to their homes to have parties – BYOB (Bring your own booze). It is at these parties that my peers often drink alcohol, get drunk, and do other things that put them at risk and harm for life changing events,” said Stubbs. She continued, “Adults are providing the space and allowing underage drinking to happen. I am here to ask that you support the social host ordinance. Because you have a duty to protect us when there is clear evidence of harm.”
Mother Sarah Roitz offered compelling testimony, “I ask for our city council to join in solidarity with parental efforts to raise our children in a new social expectation of preventing under-age drinking and the effects that it influences. My efforts to promote healthy habits should not be determined by other adults who believe it’s better under their roof. I hope other parents realize they are not just handing over an alcoholic beverage. They are handing over potential alcohol dependency, drug exposure and abuse, teenage pregnancy, and school failure to name a few. I hope your efforts as our city leaders will be able to make a difference to help foster a new social norm to raise my daughter in. A city that works alongside it’s parents in raising our future generations.”
Texans Standing Tall CEO Nicole Holt was elated with the city council’s unanimous vote on this model ordinance. “The city council demonstrated great leadership today in protecting youth from alcohol – the substance most used and causing the most harm to our youth. This policy, a tool for law enforcement, will protect youth from the harms associated with underage alcohol use and adults bad decisions. I call on other communities to follow San Antonio’s example.” Ms. Holt stated.
TST is the statewide nonprofit organization that is actively working to create healthier and safer communities by using evidence-based strategies to prevent youth access to alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs. As part of its work, TST supports coalitions in addressing underage alcohol consumption in their communities, resulting in statewide prevention impact.