Mobilizing a low-income African-American community around tobacco control: a force field analysis

Health Educ Q. 1995 Nov;22(4):443-57. doi: 10.1177/109019819502200403.


A statewide tobacco control campaign in California has been highly successful in reducing public exposure to the health hazards of secondhand smoke. Over 250 cities and counties in California have enacted local ordinances to regulate smoking in public places and workplaces. Although low-income people of color are disproportionately affected by the use of tobacco, the issue of regulating secondhand smoke tends to be a lower priority in communities that are confronted by other, more immediately pressing social justice issues, such as high rates of violence and lack of economic opportunity. This article describes the process undertaken by a county health department to mobilize a low-income African American community in a San Francisco Bay Area city to support a local ordinance mandating 100% smoke-free workplaces and restaurants. These efforts are more likely to succeed if health advocates (1) reframe issues in a context that acknowledges the political, economic, and social justice realities and strengths of the community; (2) organize within existing local networks and foster the integration of tobacco issues into the group's existing work; and (3) can defer their own agendas during times of community grieving and healing.

MeSH terms

  • Advertising
  • African Americans*
  • Air Pollution, Indoor / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Attitude to Health
  • California
  • Community Participation*
  • Consumer Advocacy*
  • Humans
  • Industry
  • Poverty*
  • Smoking / adverse effects
  • Smoking / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Smoking Prevention*
  • Social Control, Formal
  • Social Environment