American Lung Association of Metropolitan Chicago, Smoke-Free Chicago Campaign
A behind-the-scenes look at strategies and programs resulting in
passage of Chicago’s 2005 Smoke-free Ordinance.
From picketing the Virginia Slims Tennis Tournament in the 1960’s to
testifying for creation of non-smoking restaurant areas in the 1988,
the American Lung Association has led the campaign to protect
Chicago residents from the dangers of secondhand smoke. Our work in
behalf of smoke-free ordinances in Skokie and Wilmette set the stage
for the Chicago ordinance.
Chicago represented a unique challenge: Mayor Daley didn’t want a
smoke-free ordinance, in part, because of his close relationships
with Chicago restaurateurs. Historically, if the mayor opposes
legislation, it doesn’t pass.
Furthermore, the restaurant industry and spokesperson Mike Ditka had
convinced many aldermen that a smoke-free ordinance would hurt the
City financially. We’d been unable to change their minds.
The American Lung Association developed the five-point strategy
- Forge partnerships with community organizations and
- Lobby key officials through meetings, letters, faxes and
- Build public support through earned media coverage
- Communicate key messages through paid, mainstream
- Develop niche marketing programs with a special emphasis on
restaurants and twenty-something’s
- This submission focuses on the niche marketing efforts that
Forging partnerships: With the American Cancer
Society, we formed the Campaign For a Smoke-free Chicago, a group of
350 non-profits designed to demonstrate citywide support, provide a
database of community activists and apply pressure to key aldermen.
Each was given a uniform set of health, economic and legislative
Lobbying: Working with Chairman Ed Smith, we identified
supporters and opponents on the Health Committee and City Council,
then mounted an aggressive campaign to arrange thousands of meetings
and telephone conversations with key aldermen to present facts and
insight into public opinion.
Earned media: We fueled media interest with an intense earned
media campaign of press releases, news conferences, column items and
community events designed to advance our position and stimulate
phone calls to aldermen. ALAMC CEO Joel Africk became a familiar
face on newscasts, panels and dozens of TV programs.
Paid media: ALAMC published print ads that outlined our
health argument underscored public support for the issue and urged
telephone calls. The print ads complemented American Cancer Society
TV spots featuring former bartender and ALA employee, Mary Rondoni.
Niche marketing: ALAMC identified several constituencies
which would carry weight in passing an ordinance:
twenty-something’s, medical professionals, religious organizations,
Latino groups and, especially, restaurant owners. We supported each
with advertising, PR and community activities.
To reach the twenty-somethings, we created Don’t Choke, Chicago,
an edgy multi-media campaign with a website, t-shirts, ads and lapel
buttons. We put inserts in Red Eye which readers were urged to fax
their aldermen. Materials were distributed in high traffic areas and
ad trucks bearing the headline Tip well, chemo ain’t cheap wove
through Rush St, Wrigleyville, Bucktown and other hot spots.
We also worked with African-American churches, Latino organizations
and medical schools to create local events such as prayer vigils
outside City Hall, doctor and nurse rallies outside Stroger and
Northwestern Hospitals, press conferences at the Mexican Consulate
and town hall meetings in key neighborhoods.
We introduced a restaurant red card program. The cards, placed in
restaurants around town, invited patrons to offer their thoughts on
the smoke-free ordinance. We collected hundreds of cards each month
and presented them to local aldermen. Participants also joined our
e-mail advocacy program.
With pressure mounting, City Council members agreed to pass a
The proposed ordinance said that smoking would be allowed if
restaurants built a separate, ventilated room around the bar area.
It was clear that only wealthy restaurateurs or those with bars on
the perimeter would find it economically feasible to enclose the
area. This provision created an uneven playing field and pitted
restaurants against one another.
When our restaurant friends saw this, they became outraged and
quickly recruited more colleagues. We called a second press
conference and ran another round of ads touting the support of 144
restaurants with annual revenues of $345 million. Virtually every
major restaurant including the Lettuce Entertain You chain signed on
for a uniform ordinance. Their calls and meetings with aldermen were
enough to convince the Mayor and the City Council to drop the
exclusion provision and adopt a strong, uniform ordinance. In a nod
to the hospitality industry, the Council gave stand-alone bars and
restaurants with bars, up to 29 months to make the transition.
Saying they had never been lobbied so hard on an issue, aldermen
passed by 46-1 the ordinance on December 7. Mayor Daley grudgingly
acknowledged that smoke-free restaurants were the wave of the
According to the Chicago Tribune, Chicago restaurants that chose to
go smoke-free voluntarily after the vote have seen an 18% increase
back to top
Dog-A-Holics, grand opening and ongoing public relations
Our goal is an ongoing public relations campaign to help make Dog-A-Holics
a household name
In less than two months we have accomplished several media
placements such as,
Local television personality emceed grand opening fundraiser
Grand opening fundraiser photos were covered in a local pet magazine
Local newspapers covered the grand opening weekend celebration
Websites, local television and magazines covered the grand opening
evening and weekend celebration
Other television and print coverage includes:
- NBC5 morning television segment featuring Halloween costumes and
- WGN-TV in studio guest segment
- WGN-TV Around Town live television shoot in Dog-A-Holics store
with more than 10 hits-two of them were two and a half minutes
each-highlighting key products and the store overall.
- Dog-A-Holics was featured on a series called “Best of Chicago
Shopping” on ABC7, Chicago’s number one morning program.
- Dog-A-Holics featured on ABC7’s 10 o’clock news (part of a
reporters story on the Chicago Bears)
- A Chicago cable program has had the owner of Dog-A-Holics on two
times featuring items sold at the store
- Chicago Tribune At Play section highlighting Dog-A-Holics products
with photos and information written about the store
- National magazines are in the process of being pitched and we will
update this information as it becomes available
- Talking to a pet specific radio program
back to top
Grand Opening Campaign for Salon U
Our goal was to highlight the salon, celebrate the grand opening and
raise money for Y-ME of Illinois.
Sent two press releases out targeting specific media:
- Press release talking about the grand opening fundraiser and the
- Press release focusing on the salon and what makes it unique
- Generated donations for raffle prizes
- Sent invitations out to targeted media outlets
- Listed the grand opening fundraiser on several websites
- The grand opening fundraiser information was listed on the web and
placed in several local papers prior to the event
- More than 150 people attended the event
- Chicago television-ABC7 came and covered the fundraiser on the 10
o’clock evening news
- Metromix featured the event as the highlight of the day
- Time Out Magazine featured the event
- Chicago Skyline published a photo and caption from the event and
we raised nearly 2,000 for Y-ME of Illinois.
back to top