Tobacco and Government Regulation: Who Does What?

Tobacco and Government Regulation: Why Should You Participate?

Tobacco and Municipal Regulation

Making A Difference

How Communities Decide To Go Smoke-Free

Having Your Say

What Else Can You Do?

Tobacco and Provincial Regulation


Tobacco and Municipal Regulation: Making A Difference

A presentation to a municipal council can make a tremendous difference. This is your chance to have an impact on an important decision for the health of your community. It feels good to know that you’ve played a part in making public places smoke-free.

  • Municipal representatives want to hear from you. As a voter, a taxpayer and a volunteer, your opinion on smoke-free public places is very important to your Municipal Council, Board of Health or other representatives.
  • It’s easy to make a presentation. You don’t have to be an experienced public speaker. Just think of it as telling some interested friends how you feel about smoke-free public places in your community.
  • You don’t have to be an expert on second-hand smoke. Your representatives want to hear your opinion as an active member of your community and as a volunteer with a health organization. We have provided lots of useful information on the health risks of second-hand smoke but you aren’t expected to be an expert.
  • You won’t be asked tough questions or treated rudely. Municipal representatives welcome public comments on important issues. They may ask you some simple questions about your presentation, but you’ll be treated with courtesy. Your representatives understand that many people are nervous about public speaking.

Tobacco and Municipal Regulation: How Communities Decide To Go Smoke-Free top of page

From the smallest village to the largest metropolitan area, every community will follow a slightly different process to become smoke-free. Here are some basic steps that many communities follow to create bylaws for 100% smoke-free public places.

Community Concern
Health organizations and concerned citizens let their municipal representatives know that they want 100% smoke-free public places.

Newspaper, radio and television journalists can help make the public aware of the health risks of second-hand smoke.

Board of Health
If the municipality has a Board of Health, the Board will investigate the risks of second-hand smoke and make recommendations on smoke-free public places to municipal representatives. Sometimes the Board of Health will do consultations; sometimes they will invite public presentations, sometimes both.

Municipal Council
Municipal or town councils review the recommendations of the Board of Health and can enact bylaws to create 100% smoke-free public places. Sometimes presentations to councils are permitted. Councils will seek advice from legal staff or committees on the wording of the bylaw.

Tobacco and Municipal Regulation: Having Your Say top of page

This checklist will help you organize speakers to attend public meetings, hearings and consultations with your municipal representatives:

1. Book Meeting Time and Place

Check with your municipal government to find out when and where public hearings are taking place. Call the city clerk’s office, the Board of Health, your local alderman or councillor. Sometimes, the City’s website or the library will have a bulletin board listing of community events, including council meetings. Be sure to find out the hours for public presentations, time limits, exact room name or number and any additional details about parking and transportation.

2. Recruit Your Speaker

You may already have people who are willing to make a presentation, or you may have to find speakers from your community. They don’t have to be experts on second-hand smoke health issues. Often, the most compelling speakers are those who have had some experience with smoke-related illnesses or who volunteer for a health organization. Some people you may want to recruit include parents concerned about their children’s health, people who are unable to go to certain restaurants or public places because of smoke, teachers, day care workers, athletes and health care workers. People who cannot speak include any municipal employees such as public health nurses, employees of Boards of Health, or day care workers in municipal facilities.

3. Contact Other Local Organizations

Contact other agencies and organizations in your community. Let them know that your organization will be making a presentation and, in general, what you plan to say and when. Ask what other organizations are doing. What kinds of discussions are they having with their municipal representatives? What kind of opposition are they hearing, if any?

4. Take a Few Minutes to Prepare

Some people can speak freely without preparation, but most of us find it easier to spend a few minutes planning before making a presentation.

Who are you? An easy way to begin is to introduce yourself and your organization and tell why you care about this issue. For example, “I’m Jane Doakes, and I’ve been a volunteer with the London chapter of the Heart and Stroke Foundation for 12 years. I support smoke-free public places because I’ve seen first-hand the health consequences of second-hand smoke.”

Shorter is better. You will probably only have 3 to 5 minutes to speak, but you don’t have to make a long presentation to be effective. It’s better to have a few minutes of well-organized ideas and views than a long and rambling speech.

Getting personal. It’s interesting and very persuasive when you use personal examples in your presentation. For example, you may have had a relative or friend who became ill as a result of second-hand smoke. You or your child may have asthma or allergies affected by second-hand smoke. Maybe there are times when you wanted to go to a bar to hear some music but couldn’t because of the second-hand smoke. Perhaps there are places you would go more often, if only they were smoke-free. Don’t be afraid to use these personal examples.

Show and tell. There will probably be “Smoke-Free” buttons available, so be sure to wear one. Think about other things that you can bring to make your presentation more effective. One presenter, whose husband had a smoking-related illness, brought a tray with all her husband’s many medications. Another brought a list of all the restaurants he couldn’t visit because of the smoke.

Use some facts. In this kit, there is a information sheet on Tobacco and Second-hand Smoke: The Truth Hurts. You can use these facts to support your presentation and as a leave behind for councillors.

Make a plan. Jot down an outline to guide you when you’re making your presentation. What follows may help you get your ideas organized. Then do a quick rehearsal – and time it – to make sure your presentation won’t be too long.

Jot down your personal examples and ideas, and use this outline to jog your memory when you’re speaking.

  1. Introduction (who you are, what you do, why you care about this issue).
  2. Why your organization supports smoke-free public places (e.g. we work on prevention and treatment of diseases which are linked to second-hand smoke)
  3. Why you’re concerned about second hand smoke. Use examples from your own experience, support then with facts from the information sheets.
  4. You will support smoke-free establishments like restaurants and bars. Give examples of places such as restaurants, bars or entertainment facilities you’ll go to, or go more often, if they are smoke-free.
  5. Ask your Municipal Council (Board of Health/Municipal committee) to take action to make your community healthier with smoke-free public places.
  6. Thank them for the opportunity to present your views.

5. The Big Day

It’s your turn to speak. Here’s a few things you can do when you go to make your presentation.

Get there early. Arrive in plenty of time to make your presentation. This will ensure that you have a seat if the meeting is crowded and it gives you a chance to see how the room is set up and to hear other presentations. Be sure and wear a “smoke-free” button to show your support.

Check out the room. Usually there will be a podium for presenters, or at least a table. You will probably be expected to go to the podium when your name is called. Check to see if there is a microphone at the podium. Check to see where the municipal representatives will sit. Find out where the washrooms are – the meeting may last a long time.

Put out your materials. There is usually a table near the entrance to the room where you can lay out any material such as buttons, stickers and information sheets. Most municipalities won’t let you take large placards or posters into council meetings. Check the table a few times during the meeting to ensure it is well stocked.

Remember the Golden Rule. Treat the other presenters – even those you disagree with – as you want to be treated. Don’t shout out or interrupt. Most municipal meetings won’t allow demonstrations or applause from the spectators.

Be patient. Municipal council agendas can change at the last minute, or a delegation on another issue may take more time than anticipated. A delay can be a good opportunity to review your presentation, or catch up on other work.

Take your time. When your name is called, go to the podium and take a minute before you begin. Organize your notes, adjust the microphone if you need to, and take a deep breath to relax. Speak clearly, don’t lean or shout into the microphone. Refer to you notes if you need to, but be sure to make frequent eye contact with the municipal representatives. If spectators make comments as you speak, don’t respond. Let the chair of the meeting manage any disruptions. The chair of the meeting may signal you when you have one minute left, so prepare to wrap up your comments in that time.

What about questions? Usually municipal representatives only ask questions for clarification. Take a few seconds to think about your answer then respond in a straightforward way. If you don’t know the answer, say so, and offer to get back to the municipal representative with the information. Sometimes municipal representatives may ask for more information than you have with you. Offer to send it over the next day. If the questions are outside your area, say so. Once in a while a municipal representative may try to argue with presenter. Don’t be drawn into an argument and let the chair of the meeting handle difficult situations.

After the presentation. After your presentation is finished it’s a nice courtesy to stay and listen to the presenters from other organizations. You may want to thank them and network with them after the meeting. You may also want to stick around to speak to any journalists who may be covering the presentations.

6. The Next Day

Write a letter to the Mayor and Councillors thanking them for the opportunity to present and restate your main point. Respond to any outstanding questions and offer your continued support as they investigate the issue. Call the other presenters and thank them for working in the name of the cause, if you haven’t already done so in person. Send a copy of your presentation to volunteers, media and allied organizations.

Tobacco and Municipal Regulation: What Else Can You Do? top of page

If you made a presentation at a municipal meeting, you’ve done a great deal toward making your community healthier. If you weren’t able to make a presentation but would like to help in other ways, here are some things you can do:

Write a letter. Your mayor and municipal representatives respond to the number of letters and phones calls coming into their offices. Write a brief letter showing your support for smoke-free public places. If you made a presentation, you can drawn on it to illustrate the letter. You can send the same letter to the Mayor and representatives.

Make a phone call. If you don’t have time to write letters, just pick up the phone and call your Mayor and/or representative. It doesn’t have to be a long call. Just say, “My name is Jane Doe and I live in the constituency. I’d like to make sure that Alderman Jones (or Mayor Smith) knows that I support smoke-free public places, and I’ll be watching to see how he (or she) votes on this issue.” Usually, you’ll just be asked for your name and phone number, sometimes the office may ask a few questions about your views. You can often leave a short message or voice-mail if you are only able to call after regular business hours.

Talk to other people. You can be an ambassador for smoke-free public places. If you are comfortable talking to groups, call some community organizations in your area and ask to make a presentation to them. If you prefer talking one-on-one, call your friends, neighbours, work colleagues and relatives and tell them why you are supporting smoke-free public places.

Go out to meetings. You may not be comfortable speaking in public, or writing letters or making phone calls. You can show your support simply by showing up to public meetings wearing a “Smoke-free” button. You’ll be encouraging people who are presenting and you’ll show your municipal representatives that many people support smoke-free public places.

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