Making The World A Better Place, One Policy At A Time.
“Alix” Alexandra Winston currently serves as the District Representative for Solano County Supervisor Skip Thomson. Alix has been working in tobacco control for the past 5 years, where she has worked on more than 20 successful tobacco control policies including: smoke-free multi-unit housing, tobacco retail licensing and zoning, flavor regulations, minimum pack-size, electronic nicotine delivery device restrictions, tobacco 21, tobacco-free pharmacies, and smoke-free outdoor air regulations.
Q: Can you briefly describe your involvement with tobacco control policy work?
I started working in tobacco control policy in 2012. I worked in nine Bay Area counties to support policies around indoor/outdoor smoke-free air, smoke-free housing, Tobacco Retail Licensing, electronic cigarette regulations and tobacco-free pharmacies. I’ve worked on more than 20 policy campaigns.
Q: What policies that you've worked on are you most proud of?
There are many highlights that come to mind, including tobacco-free policies I supported in Berkeley, El Cerrito and Hayward. I am a big fan of protecting residents from the dangers of secondhand smoke, so I am probably most proud of the smoke-free housing ordinances I’ve worked on.
Q: What tactics or strategies have you found to be most successful in advocating for tobacco control policy change?
My number one strategy is getting community members to speak at city council meetings about how they feel on the issue. It’s super important to have community members tell their personal stories because the city council and mayor are not always working on a public health agenda, and they will listen more if their constituents are there to speak to them about their own experiences. This can affect the way they vote.
Q: What challenges have you faced in advocating for tobacco control policy change, and what was most helpful in addressing these challenges?
On many occasions, tobacco industry public relations groups organized retail associations to counter Tobacco Retail Licensing (TRL) Ordinances. They gave local tobacco retailers letter templates to oppose the policy, and matching t-shirts so business owners could coordinate their testimonies at city council meetings about how they would lose their livelihood if they could no longer sell tobacco products. Tobacco retailer attorneys sent letters to city council threatening lawsuits as a tactic to scare them away from the policy. A good strategy in response is to listen carefully to the concerns of the speakers and city council members in order to address them.
Q: What stories have been particularly impactful to policymakers?
In a Berkeley City Council meeting to discuss e-cigarette regulations, I shared with the Council that my 10-year-old son came home from school one day and informed me that electronic cigarettes are just “pretend smoking.” This story and others were effective in highlighting the way that the tobacco industry is using e-cigarettes to re-normalize the act of smoking for children, which can set children up for a lifelong addiction to nicotine. After hearing public comment, the Council voted unanimously to regulate e-cigarettes as conventional cigarettes, banning them from city parks, commercial areas, multi-unit houses and places of employment.