How Can I Talk to My Legislator About Tobacco?

The elections are over. I voted. Guess there is nothing else I can do.

Often we think the election is the end of the process between the people of Kansas and our elected officials. But whether it is your city councilman, state legislators, or United States senators and representative, they want to know how you feel about a particular issue and why. So what stops you from getting involved? Are you, like many of us, afraid of talking to an elected official? Maybe you are afraid you don’t know what to do or say, or how to act. What is the protocol?

Here is a simple communication process made up of three steps. It is easy to remember and works great to help you engage your legislator.

  1. First, tell them where you live. They want to know where you are from because they want to know if you are a constituent. Your voice carries more weight if you are a voter in their district.
  2. Second, tell your personal story. Many of us work in tobacco control because of a specific, very personal reason. Sharing your story can touch your elected official in a personal way. It may coincide with their own story or if they did not know someone impacted, by sharing you have put a person’s face on the issue. If you don’t have a personal story, explain facts or significant statistics to support your opinion.
  3. Lastly, and most important of all, remember to ask for what you want.

Rehearse what you plan to say ahead of time. You may only have a few minutes to get your point across and you want to use your time wisely. Sometimes it is easy to get caught up in the story which leaves little time to make the ask for what you want.

This process is often called Hook, Line and Sinker:

  1. Hook: Tell them where you are from
  2. Line: Give them your personal story or state the facts
  3. Sinker: Ask for what you want

As we continue to advocate on the Local, State and Federal levels, we will be calling upon you. It is important for our lawmakers to hear your voice. Remember, it’s as easy as Hook, Line and Sinker.

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