MCC 2008 Spirit of Collaboration Award Winner Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Reducing Youth Smoking Project
About the Initiative For the 2007-2008 school year, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan (BCBSM) funded a tobacco prevention campaign aimed at 16,000 Michigan students enrolled in 26 high schools throughout the state. The program allowed students to participate in counter-marketing awareness campaigns and peer advocacy efforts and enabled students to choose a variety of student-led activities to promote smoke-free environments.
Local health departments managed the projects and surveyed the students about their perceptions, behaviors, and attitudes toward smoking and tobacco at the beginning and end of the grant period.
Impetus for the Collaboration
Due to high youth smoking rates and the lack of prevention resources in Michigan, there is a need for prevention directed specifically at youth. Implementation of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) best practices has shown that youth smoking rates can be significantly lowered. The grants sought to implement the “CDC Best Practices” for youth prevention.
Results 250 students became TATU (Teens Against Tobacco Use) leaders. Two counties — Houghton and Gogebic — have passed smokefree worksites and public places regulations. There were significant increases in the number of smokefree restaurants and apartments. Tobacco prevention advertising saturation of media markets in grant communities led to a significant increase in smoke-free policies and calls to the Michigan Department of Community Health Quitline. Further evaluation will be conducted at the end of this project.
Lessons Learned Local and state and agencies and organizations can work together to increase the capacity of youth to educate and pass tobacco prevention policies. Media grants given to local health department coalitions are very cost effective because of their relationships with the media. Coalitions get a much better local match for each dollar spent. Training youth is very time intensive, but pays off because they are powerful spokespeople when talking to the media and legislators.
“Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Reducing Youth Smoking Project” received the Michigan Cancer Consortium’s 2008 Spirit of Collaboration Award. The annual award is presented to member organizations that have done outstanding collaborative work to significantly move comprehensive cancer control activities forward in Michigan.