Communicating With Local Elected Officials: Lessons Learned From Clean Indoor Air Ordinance Campaigns

Maureen O'Dougherty, Jean Forster, Rachel Widome

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


This article describes a study of the effectiveness of communication strategies used to influence policy makers to support local smoke-free laws in the Minneapolis—St. Paul metropolitan region. Twenty-seven of 41 members of three city councils and two county boards of commissioners were individually interviewed as were seven advocates who campaigned for the bans. Officials valued public health and economic data, public opinion polls, personally written e-mails, and dialogue with constituents. Phone banking messages indicated public support but were a nuisance. Officials felt that media ads were a waste of money and leafleting and other personal targeting were unacceptable. Advocates tended not to critically examine their own efforts for strengths and weaknesses and seemed unconcerned by public officials’ negative reception to some strategies. This case study suggests the need for reflection on the pros and cons of well-funded, highly orchestrated campaigns for public health policy, as these strategies may clash with the political process of building relationships.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)275-281
Number of pages7
JournalHealth Promotion Practice
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2010

Bibliographical note

Copyright 2016 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • clean indoor air
  • elected officials
  • policy
  • tobacco


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