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Framing Tobacco Disparities

How to talk about tobacco impacts from a health equity perspective

Tobacco Prevention

To support health equity, our collection of resources on evidence-informed messaging will help tobacco prevention staff and partners frame their communications on tobacco-related health disparities in ways that minimize racial biases and foster support for effective policy solutions.

Regulation of tobacco products is uneven across the United States, and where protections are insubstantial, health problems stemming from tobacco use and exposure abound. Leading voices in the tobacco control field recognize that equity issues must be highlighted  but with sensitivity. Messaging that focuses on disparities can reinforce biases about the communities that are most harmed by commercial tobacco, leading policymakers to support ineffective approaches. To counter these problems, ChangeLab Solutions partnered with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and FrameWorks Institute to create a series of equity-centered messaging guides.

Through the guidance in our Framing Tobacco Disparities resources, you'll learn how to use effective framing that centers justice and social context, focusing on the drivers of disparity — the causal pathways that contribute to disproportionate tobacco use, exposure, and health harms — rather than relying on lists of subgroups or unframed data to highlight inequities. With the right framing, outreach and advocacy can more effectively mobilize affected communities, generate support among bystander publics, and persuade policymakers to take action.

Download the entire collection, or choose the parts that most relate to your work.

  • Overview: Tobacco Disparities Framing Project. Need to orient other tobacco prevention and control professionals to this body of work? Use this summary of the project’s history, partners, and key findings.
  • Justice in the Air: Framing Tobacco-Related Health Disparities — A FrameWorks Strategic Brief. Are you a communicator who needs us to show our work? This brief outlines key recommendations and the rationale and evidence behind them.
  • Pointing Out Inequity: Curated Talking Points on Tobacco-Related Health Disparities. Looking for data to help you tell a big-picture story? Adapt well-framed points from these descriptions of findings from reliable, high-quality studies.
  • Tobacco Disparities Framing Project: Training Modules. Want all the recommendations, but in a more visual form that could support a presentation or training? Download this module.
  • Content Review Guide: Using Communications to Build Public Understanding of the Health Burdens Caused by Commercial Tobacco. Want to build or remodel a communication using this framing guidance? This review guide can help.
  • Building a Strong Frame: Reorganizing Points Makes a Difference. Wondering where to start and how to finish strong? This resource outlines an evidence-based narrative arc that can be applied to virtually any tobacco-related policy issue.
  • Hall of Frames: Tobacco Disparities Framing Project Recommendations in Action. Want to see these recommendations in action? Review these examples of great framing from tobacco prevention advocates and state tobacco control programs.
  • Talking Points: Tobacco-Related Health Disparities. Looking for the gist? Lift some language from these talking points.
  • Talking About Tobacco-Related Health Disparities: A Guide for Children and Youth Advocates
  • Talking About Tobacco-Related Health Disparities: A Guide for Racial and Ethnic Justice Advocates
  • Talking About Tobacco-Related Health Disparities: A Guide for Health Equity Advocates
  • Talking About Tobacco-Related Health Disparities: A Guide for Public Health Professionals
  • Talking About Tobacco-Related Health Disparities: A Guide for Rural Health Advocates
  • Menthol Messaging: Findings from an Influencer Audit. Learn more about cross-racial messaging efforts, including the history of campaigning on this issue.


FrameWorks Institute and ChangeLab Solutions delivered an interactive training in May 2022 to help local tobacco prevention staff and partners frame their communications on tobacco-related health disparities in ways that foster support for effective policy solutions.

ChangeLab Solutions senior attorneys Sara Bartel and Jessica Breslin joined facilitator Julie Sweetland, senior advisor at FrameWorks Institute; Ryan Coffman, Tobacco Policy and Control Program manager at the Philadelphia Department of Public Health; and Ashley LeMaistre, program coordinator for Chronic Disease and Injury Prevention at Austin Public Health, in a discussion on using messaging resources to support tobacco prevention strategies and partnerships.