Tobacco Control – How Shelter-In-Place Actually Boosted Community Engagement

Secondhand smoke is an ongoing public health challenge that puts everyone at risk, and while Los Angeles has worked to curb exposure in the workplace and public spaces, residents living in multi-unit housing, many of them low-income or in disadvantaged communities, still face risks. That’s where Allegra Consulting came in.

Since March 2019, Allegra Consulting has conducted grassroots outreach efforts and community events in two cities: Duarte and La Puente. The goal was to have an ongoing presence with these two communities to raise awareness about the health risks associated with secondhand smoke in multi-unit housing. Secondhand smoke is the third leading cause of preventable death in the United States, and increases the risks of lung and heart disease, as well as Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. Reducing secondhand smoke exposure in the home is vital for families and communities.

However, when the COVID-19 crisis hit this past spring, the State of California issued a Shelter-in-Place mandate in mid-March, which meant community events were no longer an option.

But that didn’t stop our efforts to reach out and keep people engaged. In fact, the opposite happened; community engagement took off in a new way, explained Brenda Morales, project coordinator who focuses on public health endeavors and led community events in Duarte and La Puente. How did this happen? By identifying community influencers during in-person events held throughout 2019, Allegra Consulting was able to successfully keep the dialogue going when COVID-19 disrupted daily life.

“We’ve actually seen our Zoom attendance go up in relation to these outreach efforts,” said Morales. “People are stuck at home, they don’t have to drive anywhere, and community influencers and neighborhood organizations have been sharing our messaging on their own websites and social media. We were able to move the good relationships we had established in-person to various digital platforms and still keep the message going.”

 

For more than two decades, Allegra Consulting has had its feet on the ground working with diverse communities to communicate progressive messages and conduct community outreach that leads to meaningful, positive change. Using creative design, digital media, and innovative technology and strategies, Allegra Consulting keeps pace with our changing times and demanding media cycles while positioning itself as an award-winning firm that’s on the vanguard in community engagement.