Who We Are

katherine_act8and13The Coalition for a Tobacco Free Arkansas is a network of statewide organizations with a shared mission to prevent the use of tobacco in our state. The Coalition for a Tobacco Free Arkansas (CTFA) has worked since its inception in January 1992 to improve the health of Arkansans by waging a grassroots campaign to increase public awareness of the negative effects of tobacco use. The state of Arkansas faces a tremendous health crisis.

According to the Arkansas Department of Health, tobacco use in Arkansas kills more people than the other top five killers combined and secondhand smoke is number three. In Arkansas, 4,900 people die each year from tobacco use and approximately 490 more non-smokers die from secondhand smoke. Our economy suffers from the $817 million in extra health care costs each year that result from tobacco use in the state.

The message that “environmental tobacco smoke (secondhand smoke) causes lung cancer in non-smoking adults and impairs the respiratory health of children” needs further dissemination; an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) report that secondhand smoke could be classified as a Class A Carcinogen (known to cause cancer) is not yet widely enough known and understood in our state. The coalition plans to deliver the following messages:

  1. There is no safe amount of exposure to secondhand smoke; secondhand smoke is chemically similar to mainstream smoke. A considerable number of people are exposed to secondhand smoke on a daily basis, resulting in cancer, respiratory disease and infectious diseases in people of all ages and from all walks of life.
  2. Between $15 million and $45 million are spent each year to combat children’s health problems caused by secondhand smoke in Arkansas.

Legislators, ministers and educators frequently contact the coalition for information on tobacco-related issues. The coalition provides tobacco-related information to all interested parties at the local, state and national levels. The coalition has complemented the passive provision of data by writing opinion editorial pieces for area newspapers, distributing videos, and conducting public forums. The coalition looks to further develop key relationships with all individuals across Arkansas through information sharing.

The coalition realizes that grassroots relationships are the building block of policy change and has sought to strengthen its relationships with all Arkansas residents. For instance, the coalition has compiled a database of members to assist in communication and education efforts. In addition, new advocates have become involved and educated through advocacy training seminars, CDC “Best Practices” seminars and tobacco control public forums.

The coalition has achieved dramatic policy and attitude changes. One of the coalition’s first successes occurred in 1997 and 1998, when a group of central Arkansas coalition members helped the city of Little Rock pass city ordinances limiting the sale of tobacco products to minors. This legislation was patterned after Federal Drug Administration (FDA) recommendations and remains in place even though the FDA “temporarily” lost the authority to regulate tobacco. The Coalition can also add to its successes the prevention to date of preemptive state legislation.