Getting on the honor role in Maryville

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J. Stephen Conn, Flickr

Della Rhoades

Director, Nodaway County Health Department

Maryville passed a partial smokefree law in 2005 making smoking in restaurants history. In October 2010, the persistence and hard work of tobacco control advocates paid off when Maryville succeeded in passing a comprehensive smokefree law. Della Rhoades explains how a tool, called the “Honor Roll,” helped change social norms in Maryville.

What were some successful strategies used in Maryville?

We paid for ads in the paper that highlighted smokefree restaurants and facilities. We called businesses and said, “We know you’re smokefree, is it ok if we go ahead and put your organization in the paper on the honor roll?” And then their business stayed on there week after week. We were basically paying for free advertising for smokefree businesses. And after a while people began calling us because they wanted to be featured in the paper. There was a nursing home that called us and said, “We’ve gone smokefree and I wonder if we could be on the honor role?” When Pizza Hut went smokefree, we went in to ask them why they had done it. The manager said, “I knew it was going to happen, everyone else in town is doing it, there is this citizen’s committee, there was the honor roll in the paper every week. I knew an ordinance was coming so I might as well go ahead and do it.” So the honor roll helped to change the social norm.

What would you tell other communities who are considering going smokefree?

I would tell them to be persistent and never give up. This coalition has been here since 1999. It takes a long time to change a social norm. I tell my coalition members when we work on obesity, “Remember, we didn’t get smokefree here in a year.” It just takes persistence and keeping the message in front of the pubic all the time.