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Advocacy Matters!

Your voice can make an impact.

The Hub leads and supports advocacy efforts for behavioral health, substance use and problem gambling by educating community leaders, elected officials and the community at large.

What is an advocate?

An advocate is someone who supports and promotes a cause, policy or interest with the goal of raising awareness and/or influencing change.

Advocates are critical to raising awareness and creating change because they put a human face on an issue/cause, which helps make more of an impact than statistics and facts alone.

Becoming an advocate for behavioral health and addiction is important because there is widespread stigma and misunderstanding and these areas are often overlooked when it comes to funding.

The current system is failing and in need of change because:

  • We fail to prevent addiction (and behavioral health issues) or to catch the symptoms early.

  • There is little access to quality treatment.

  • Low-quality and fraudulent treatment is widespread and poorly regulated. Insurance coverage is poor, making treatment unaffordable for many.

  • There is widespread stigma that deters people from seeking care and undermines recovery.

(Adapted from Partnership to End Addiction Advocacy Toolkit)

Where do you start?

What issue(s) are you passionate about? Whether it’s behavioral health, addiction, the environment, racial justice, or another issue, make your voice heard!

Advocacy can occur in many forms and various levels of commitment. You can do simple things like signing a petition or posting about an issue on social media. You can become a volunteer or attend an event on behalf of an organization or cause. If an issue you are advocating for has directly affected you, share your story and help put that human face on the issue. You can also choose to get more involved in legislation and call or write members of Congress or local leaders, attend meetings and hearings, submit testimony, etc.

Remember, advocacy happens at every level - local, state and federal. It’s all important and every action counts. So much positive change begins with the actions of a few passionate individuals.

Get involved with current local issues!

There are many bills that are related to our work with behavioral health, substance use and problem gambling. Here is a list of bills we are following that may be of interest to you.

If you have an opinion on prohibiting the sale of all flavored cigarettes, tobacco products, electronic nicotine delivery systems and vapor products in Connecticut, next week on Monday February 8 from 9 AM to 6 PM, The Public Health Committee of the CT General Assembly will be holding a public hearing on SB 326,

Why is this an important issue?

The tobacco industry profits by hooking kids on flavored nicotine. When the product seems harmless, teen use rises. And nicotine’s changes to the brain could be permanent.

  • Do you want to help prevent kids from getting hooked on menthol cigarettes and all other flavored tobacco products – including flavored e-cigarettes, flavored cigars and smokeless tobacco?

  • Do you believe there’s no place for highly addictive flavored tobacco products that can severely damage our lungs during and after the COVID-19 pandemic?

  • Do you think it’s time for Connecticut to end the tobacco industry’s exploitation of Black lives for profit by eliminating flavored tobacco products – including and especially menthol cigarettes?

If so, Flavors Hook Kids Connecticut suggests the following ways you can educate state leaders about this issue and share your voice:

  • Written testimony – ideally, you’ll submit this BEFORE the public hearing, now rescheduled to Feb 8th. Flavors Hook Kids Connecticut can help. Just e-mail, w/ subject line “Public Testimony – Written,” to get started. It typically requires no more than 15 to 30 minutes, with assistance from their campaign.

  • Live testimony via Zoom to the committee – Interested? Flavors Hook Kids Connecticut can register you. Just e-mail, w/ subject line “Public Testimony – Live”, to get registered. Once you’re registered, you’ll receive an e-mail confirmation with follow-up instructions from the Public Health Committee.

  • Finally, read the campaign letter to legislators. If your organization would like to add their name, e-mail Flavors Hook Kids Connecticut, w/ subject line “Organization add request”.

Looking for more ways to educate leaders about the dangers of flavored tobacco products?

  1. If you want to show support for the bill, you can write to your state legislators and Governor Lamont.

  2. Live in Bridgeport or know anyone who does? Click here to educate the Bridgeport City Council about the dangers associated with flavored tobacco products.

  3. Live in Hartford or know anyone who does? Click here to educate the Hartford City Council about the dangers associated with flavored tobacco products.

So, what matters to you? Here are some resources to help you get started.

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