March 21, 2016

This March, as we celebrate National Nutrition Month, it’s important not only to promote healthy drinks, like water, but also to identify strategies for making water clean, free, and easily accessible.

Many institutions recognize the environmental and health benefits of providing drinking fountains. Schools, in particular, understand the importance of offering children water as a healthy alternative to sugary drinks and bottled beverages.

School nutrition policies have done a lot to make a healthier mix of bottled beverages available to students during the school day, but drinking water infrastructure in schools continues to lag behind. Many schools need to upgrade aging plumbing systems to ensure drinking fountains offer safe, toxin-free water.

We’ve developed a new fact sheet to help child health advocates use state plumbing codes to modernize school drinking water infrastructure. It provides an overview of how to use data about school facilities to inform the policy change process, and includes examples of key provisions that can optimize water access in schools.

To learn more, see our related fact sheet on increasing water access in schools and our model wellness policy language on water access.

March 7, 2016

We all need some salt to survive. But consuming too much sodium negatively affects our health, leading to more trips to the doctor, more sick days, and reduced productivity in the workplace.

Employers can help promote health by providing employees with lower-sodium foods. In addition, these efforts benefit business: employers can save money, and potentially increase revenue, by helping their employees eat less sodium. 

Though reducing sodium may seem financially and logistically challenging, businesses can use cost-effective strategies such as group purchasing to supply healthier foods. Employers that provide lower-sodium foods can reduce health care costs, increase productivity, and generate a positive public image.

Changelab Solutions' new webinars, talking points, and fact sheet explain the importance of reducing sodium for health, and provide businesses and public health professionals with the facts about consumer preferences, financial costs, and feasibility. Each resource provides real-world examples from businesses that have successfully reduced sodium in the foods they offer.

  • The Shakedown On Sodium fact sheet discusses how businesses, hospitals, and other institutions can use group purchasing to buy lower-sodium products at low prices.  
  • Sodium-Reduction Talking Points for Public Health provides quick responses to the perceived barriers employers identify in conversations about offering lower-sodium products.  
  • Our Pass (on) the Salt webinar discusses the business rationales for reducing sodium and explains how offering lower-sodium foods can result in a positive return on investment.
  • A Strategy Worth Its Salt, a webinar on the ins and outs of group purchasing, explores how institutions and organizations can use this strategy to obtain and offer healthier, lower-sodium foods at more affordable prices.

See our resources on creating healthier food environments for more information!


February 1, 2016

In 2011, Americans consumed approximately 292.8 billion cigarettes, which resulted in an estimated 110 million pounds of waste. Unfortunately, much of this tobacco waste – filters and cigarette butts, for instance – ends up on streets, in parks, on beaches, and in other public places. Not only is tobacco litter unsightly, it can pollute water supplies and be poisonous to children, pets, and wildlife.

Localities have taken several different approaches to reducing the impact of tobacco waste, such as enforcing existing littering laws, posting signage discouraging littering, providing ash cans, imposing a fee on cigarettes to offset cleanup costs, and conducting periodic cleanups.

Yet tobacco waste remains a pervasive problem. We’ve developed the Tobacco Litter Control Ordinance to help communities address the problem of tobacco waste littered in public spaces.

This ordinance allows a city or county to shift the burden of tobacco waste cleanup to the tobacco industry. It makes it illegal for tobacco products to be sold in a jurisdiction unless the manufacturer or distributor of those products takes responsibility for the collection and disposal of tobacco waste. The ordinance requires the manufacturer or distributor to set up a tobacco control litter program or pay an in-lieu fee. This resource provides relevant findings and policy language for California cities and counties, but the framework could be applicable to communities nationwide.

Contact us for more information, and check out all our tobacco control model policies.

January 14, 2016

Warning labels on sugary drinks could discourage parents from purchasing sugary drinks for their kids, according to a study published today in Pediatrics. The findings suggest a label alerting consumers to the health risks associated with sugary drinks would both increase parents’ awareness and decrease the likelihood of parents purchasing sugary drinks for their children.

Increasingly, Americans are calling for policies that publicize health information, including the specific health effects of sugary drink consumption. According to a Field Research poll released this week, 78 percent of California voters support a warning label on sugary drinks. ChangeLab Solutions has developed Model Legislation Requiring a Safety Warning for Sugar-Sweetened Beverages for states that want to implement a policy requiring a safety warning on sugary drink containers and packaging.
“We may not be used to thinking these beverages are as dangerous as tobacco or alcohol, but there is a large and growing body of research linking sugary drinks with obesity, overweight, and chronic disease, especially for kids,” said Ian McLaughlin, senior staff attorney and program director at ChangeLab Solutions. “As the study indicates, warning labels on sugary drinks can help parents make the best decisions for themselves and their family.”
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation funded the study released today through its Healthy Eating Research program. It’s one of the first studies to examine the impact of health warning labels on sugary drinks, and includes several important findings:
  • Forty percent of participating parents said they would choose a sugar-sweetened beverage for their kids after viewing a warning label, compared to 60 percent of participating parents who saw no label (and compared to 53 percent who saw just a calorie label).
  • Nearly 75 percent of parents who participated in this study overall support sugary warning labels.
  • Health warning labels may reduce parents’ perception of the healthfulness of sugary drinks and the ability of these beverages to boost kids’ energy and focus. Additionally, the labels may increase parents’ understanding of their child’s risk of weight gain, heart disease, and diabetes from consuming these drinks.
“This study suggests that sugar-sweetened beverage warning labels could play an important role in educating parents and may motivate them to buy fewer sugary drinks for their children,” said Christina Roberto, PhD, Assistant Professor of Medical Ethics & Health Policy at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and the study’s lead author.
Warning labels are a proven strategy for increasing awareness about the health effects of what people consume. Contact us to learn more about posting warning labels on sugary drinks.

January 10, 2016

Every year, the tobacco industry spends billions encouraging people who smoke to continue and persuading nonsmokers, particularly youth, to start smoking. Tobacco companies use most of their marketing budget – nearly $1 million every hour – at the point of sale (POS), making it the primary venue for tobacco product marketing.

The POS refers to the approximately 375,000 retail outlets that sell tobacco products in the United States. The tobacco industry uses a variety of POS promotions to push their products in stores, including price discounts, strategic product placement, incentives for retailers to increase in-store marketing, as well as exterior and interior advertisements.

ChangeLab Solutions' new resource, the Point of Sale Playbookoutlines policy options for regulating how and where tobacco products are marketed and sold. Using this resource, communities can consider strategies for addressing the “four Ps” of tobacco marketing: place, price, product, and promotion. The Playbook provides an overview of the policy options as well as examples of their implementation at the local level.

The Playbook also sets forth the foundational steps for creating a regulatory framework to support POS work. It is designed to be used in conjunction with ChangeLab Solutions’ Tobacco Retailer Licensing Playbook, which describes the steps necessary for developing, implementing, and enforcing a comprehensive tobacco retailer licensing policy. For more information, contact ChangeLab Solutions’ tobacco control team.