Communicating and Building Support

Communication is essential to every step of implementing and maintaining a tobacco-free policy. Communication involves both imparting messages and listening to those affected by a policy change.

Creating Buy-In

Invest in staff buy-in and training: it is important that staff see the importance of the change, as well as have the confidence to provide tobacco use treatment. hiTs free online self-paced training can help! Justice in the Air: Framing for Tobacco-Free Behavioral Health Initiatives.

How to create buy-in: 

Conduct listening sessions, surveys, or interviews with staff and clients separately. Check out this listening session guide and sample agenda.

      • Foster discussions on how becoming 100% tobacco-free and offering tobacco use treatment fit with your organization’s mission, vision, or values.
      • Link the policy to evidence-based treatment for mental health and substance use disorders, promoting wellness, and whole person care.
      • Tobacco-free policies are key to health equity, protecting everyone’s right to clean air, and being person-centered. Get the information you need to share this with staff & clients from our FAQ for behavioral health and medical providers or the FAQ for IDD/TBI service providers. 

Involve your NC regional tobacco control manager early on. You don’t have to do this alone, they can help you with all of these things, including building support, listening sessions, and training. 

Tips for Communicating Your Policy


Be proud to have clean air and confident in offering evidence-based treatment, set this as the standard for how staff should communicate about the policy

Communicate in advance with clients transparently and frequently about this change (think months, not weeks or days). 

Have accurate information about the effects of tobacco use on mental and physical health, and benefits of becoming tobacco-free in programming. 

Have signage, posters, cards, whatever you need to communicate the policy to all onsite as well as resources to help folks who want to quit. Here are some examples of signs, posters, and cards.

Update your website and any materials to consistently reflect the policy change (for example: if you have guidance on what to bring/not to bring to the program) 

Understand the difference between commercial tobacco products and traditional tobacco used by many American Indians and Alaska Natives, and show respect for those traditions. Click here for more information. 

Convene your wellness committee

Administrators and staff at all levels of your organization & clients should be a part of the process. They can move forward with each of the subsequent steps, providing communication through every part of the process. 

For a comprehensive guide creating a wellness committee and implementing a policy, check out the Dimensions Tobacco-Free Policy Toolkit

Click here to return to the tobacco free road map, to check out any of the next steps.