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Framing Prevention: Defusing Prevention Pushback
Surgeon General Regina Benjamin said, “[W]e have to get people to understand how important [prevention] is, how it will save us down the line, how important it is that in one generation we should be a much healthier nation.” But some have been reluctant to heed the nation’s top doctor. We’ve seen a growing pushback on prevention, much of it focused on the role of government in promoting public health on opinion pages, blog comments, and even on the floor of Congress. Below are some examples and talking points that you can use to defuse prevention pushback.

 The stories:

In today’s LATimes, “Obama healthcare: Government, heal thyself,” claims that CPPW efforts aren’t evidenced based: “[M]ost of these CDC-administered social engineering programs are not based on evidence. In fact, in some cases, the evidence shows that the projects don't work. For others, there simply isn't evidence that they are effective because the interventions haven't been studied, making these extremely expensive experiments at best.”

What you can do:
Please take a few minutes and
write a comment here on the post. Your comment should take these basic ideas, or any of the talking points further down, and re-phrase them (please don’t cut and paste, so that many voices can be reflected in our comments):

  • Prevention is based on decades of solid science. We all deserve to be healthy, and we are proud of the communities across the countries that are already showing results and building health.
  • Experience and research show that building health in the places people live, work and play saves lives and money.  Federal prevention dollars support strategies that have been field tested.
  • We need to expand what is already working across the country so that everyone can enjoy health and prosperity. We can’t afford not to invest in what works.

In the Daily Caller, “The CDC is subsidizing left-wing activist groups”, Community Transformation Grants (funded through the landmark Prevention and Public Health Fund) are also the focus: “It is no secret that the government wants to change how we live. Nanny-state officials want people to exercise more, stop drinking soda and stop using tobacco. But few people are familiar with an Obama administration program that gives grants to activist organizations that support unpopular nanny-state laws.” You can find some similar pieces in The Hill and in April’s Daily Caller.

What you can do:
We don’t recommend responding to some of the most aggressive opinion pieces directly (particularly when they are in historically conservative outlets like the Daily Caller), but we are providing talking points to help you understand how you can proactively address these negative frames in your messaging materials. If your community is working on its own local initiatives, think about emphasizing the local nature of your work:

  • Prevention is local. Community prevention helps neighborhood residents work with local businesses, faith leaders, community groups and local health departments to figure out the best ways to build health where they live—whether that's putting more fruits and vegetables on a child's school lunch plate, or making the local park safer so a mom doesn't have to put her kid in front of the tv because she's afraid to let him out of the house.
  • Local communities know what’s wrong, and when they work together, they can make it right. The good news is we can fix many of the health problems we face, and prevent other problems from starting. When we work together—our public health department, cities, schools, businesses, and community-based organizations—we can overcome even the most tenacious problems. We have skilled, creative and dedicated people who can make our region the best it can be.
  • Chronic diseases related to unhealthy food options, availability and promotion of tobacco products and lack of safe places for physical activity are one of the biggest drains on our economy. We here in _______________ know it, and we’re rolling up our sleeves and doing just what Americans do best: finding innovative solutions. The federal government has dedicated the resources, but our solution is unique—because our local leaders, churches, businesses and parents know best what works for us here.
  • The public wants prevention. Seventy-five percent of the American people back community prevention.  Their support is even stronger for the kinds of efforts CPPW is focused on right now: bringing more fresh fruits and vegetables into our stores, providing healthier lunches for kids, and banning smoking from public places.  

More steps you can take:

  • Write a comment on the LA Times article today, educating them about the importance of  community prevention.
  • Invite your local elected official to see prevention in action.  Tour the neighborhood, meet with local staff, or invite them to participate in your community prevention efforts.
  • Make sure we have your zip code. We want to be able to mobilize people right where you live. Update your information here.
  • Write a blog, op-ed or letter to the editor of your local paper.
  • Have a successful example of community prevention in action? Please share it with us so we can include it in our talking points.
  • Visit our Health Reform Advocacy page for more information.
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