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 youve played a part in making public places smoke-free.
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.
Board of Health
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 clerks office, the Board of Health, your local alderman or councillor. Sometimes, the Citys 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 dont 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 childrens 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, Im Jane Doakes, and Ive been a volunteer with the London chapter of the Heart and Stroke Foundation for 12 years. I support smoke-free public places because Ive 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 dont have to make a long presentation to be effective. Its better to have a few minutes of well-organized ideas and views than a long and rambling speech.
Getting personal. Its 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 couldnt because of the second-hand smoke. Perhaps there are places you would go more often, if only they were smoke-free. Dont 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 husbands many medications. Another brought a list of all the restaurants he couldnt 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 youre 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 wont be too long.
Jot down your personal examples and ideas, and use this outline to jog your memory when youre speaking.
5. The Big Day
Its your turn to speak. Heres 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 wont 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. Dont shout out or interrupt. Most municipal meetings wont 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, dont 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, dont 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 dont 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. Dont be drawn into an argument and let the chair of the meeting handle difficult situations.
After the presentation. After your presentation is finished its 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 havent 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, youve done a great deal toward making your community healthier. If you werent 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 dont have time to write letters, just pick up the phone and call your Mayor and/or representative. It doesnt have to be a long call. Just say, My name is Jane Doe and I live in the constituency. Id like to make sure that Alderman Jones (or Mayor Smith) knows that I support smoke-free public places, and Ill be watching to see how he (or she) votes on this issue. Usually, youll 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. Youll be encouraging people who are presenting and youll show your municipal representatives that many people support smoke-free public places.