Evaluating Local Policy Adoption Campaigns in California: Tobacco Retail License (TRL) Adoption
As part of its state-wide “denormalization” campaign, the California Tobacco Control Program has funded local tobacco control projects to secure tobacco retail licenses (TRLs) in their communities. TRL policies generate funding by requiring tobacco retailers within a jurisdiction to obtain a license, which is in addition to the state license that tobacco retailers are legally required to purchase to sell tobacco products. The funding provided by TRLs enables local law enforcement to carry out inspection and enforcement operations. This paper examines the unique processes by which local project campaigns attempt to get TRL policies adopted in communities across the State of California. Twenty-two local projects submitted final evaluation reports pertaining to the adoption of TRLs, and the reports from these projects form the basis of the analysis. Successful campaigns tended to include the following strategies: (1) determining policy readiness; (2) gathering local data; (3) identifying and working with a “champion”; (4) building relationships with local law enforcement agencies and decision makers; and (5) educating community and decision makers. The major challenges faced by local projects included budget cuts and staffing issues, concern about creating an unfavorable environment for business by imposing more regulations and fees, and complaints about using law enforcement resources for tobacco control in light of more “pressing” public safety issues. These challenges proved difficult for local projects to overcome, and also highlight the need for projects to create and carry out strong but flexible tactical plans that incorporate the aforementioned strategies.