Grassroots email campaign may signal end of workplace smoking in Texas

How do you fight powerful local opposition to legislative action on a public health issue when you’re hampered by weak local support? This public affairs team found the solution.

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The fact that these were national, not state organizations gives an idea of the depth and fervor of ordinary citizen sentiment behind Texas’ entrenched local opposition to nonsmoking laws.

The SFT coalition, after five years of the good fight, decided to change tactics in 2010. Still determined to turn Texas into a state where workers’ health would not be compromised by second-hand smoke, SFT hired Noble Strategic Partners Inc., an Austin public affairs firm.

Noble’s mission: Plan an “email advocacy campaign to recruit, educate, and engage an army of grassroots supporters” to change the minds of legislators notoriously suspicious of either state or federal government intrusion into the affairs of private citizens.

The goal
: Persuade the 82nd Texas Legislature to pass a law in 2011 forbidding smokers to light up in the workplace.

The results: A smoke-free bill was passed by the Texas House, but failed in the Senate in 2011. However, the anti-smoking bill made it further through the Texas legislature than ever before, and gained more support than in any previous effort. The 2013 Smoke-Free Texas campaign is underway for the 83rd Legislative Session.

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