Using a Checklist as a Road Map

By Guest Blogger – Catherine Jun, Los Angeles Tobacco Control and Prevention Program

I am a tobacco control newbie.

As a newly hired policy liaison for Project TRUST, I needed to learn about tobacco control issues fast. I dove into the world of TRLs, OAs, and MUHs, and began a point of purchase campaign at the same time. If I were to swim (not sink) during my first campaign in a new city, I would need an enormous amount of preparation.

To help with that process, I completed the Center’s “Assessing the Political Environment” checklist, a series of questions that get down to the nitty-gritty details of a target city. And surprisingly, the checklist didn’t turn into a laundry list, but became a road map that guides my campaign decisions today.

The checklist forced me to sit down and compile important data, which identified campaign opportunities and barriers in my target city. Here are a few results I discovered:

  • The city’s youth and adults have higher than average smoking rates
  • No council member has voted against tobacco control

This information, along with others, allowed me to conclude that my target city was an ideal setting to launch a successful point of purchase campaign. It exhibited a need for additional tobacco control and had the support and political will to implement it.

Of course, road maps get outdated, torn and folded back into strange shapes, and my checklist was not exempt from those mishaps. I recently reviewed my checklist, only to discover that many sections, such as the list of powerful organizations in the community, were not relevant to my campaign anymore. As I dove deeper into my city and met personally with residents and leaders, I was reminded that a checklist – written out of online research and second-person interviews, really can’t replace one-on-one meetings with the people who actually live and work there. So it was unsurprising that I had to add new organizations that would make great supporters and delete others that would not necessarily further the campaign.

Just in the last month, the checklist has become tighter and more exacting in its mission to pass a point of purchase policy. Through research and meetings, I am developing an insider’s perspective of the city, and the checklist has been a great way to organize this growing knowledge into a document that is easy to read and update!

In other words, it’s become a life saver.

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