A woman scientist using a microscope. A vision-checking machine with overlay text -- Smoking causes cataracts and age-related macular degeneration the leading causes of vision-loss in older adults. Female scientists in the lab. An eye chart with overlay text -- Smoking causes cataracts and age-related macular degeneration the leading causes of vision-loss in older adults.

Making Tobacco-related Death Part of America’s Past

How do you help a new regulatory body inform its stakeholders about its role and activities?

When you’re dealing with the public health threat posed by tobacco use, it’s necessary to use a full range of communications activities to make sure messages and evidence-based information reach a vast core audience. 

Tobacco use has long been the leading cause of preventable death and disease in the United States. However, Congress didn’t give the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) the power to regulate tobacco products until 2009. The FDA now has the job of regulating the sales and marketing of this legal but deadly drug with the goal of protecting the public’s health.

The Center for Tobacco Products (CTP) leads tobacco regulatory and scientific efforts within the FDA. A key challenge is communicating clear, consistent, and unbiased information and messages to its exceptionally varied audiences—including people who use, make, sell, or research tobacco products; public health advocates; policymakers; and the general public. The relatively young Center also needs to make itself and its work better known and understood among its stakeholders.


One-Stop Shop for Communications Support

Under our contract with the FDA, IQ Solutions serves as a single interaction point for supporting the Center’s complex communications with the tobacco industry, the public health community, and the public. We are a one-stop shop for CTP, providing a full range of closely coordinated services—from strategic planning, content development, and IT systems support to marketing, media analysis, and stakeholder engagement.

Developing a 5-Year Communications Road Map

During the first year, we talked with key internal stakeholders across CTP to develop a strategic communications plan that provides a 5-year roadmap to prioritize activities. The plan outlines ways to build on the Center’s already significant accomplishments by expanding the existing communication infrastructure and using integrated initiatives to present CTP’s story and messages.

Expanding CTP’s Communication Infrastructure

IQ Solutions built a solid infrastructure for more extensive and broader communication activities. We established standard operating procedures to help break down silos and consolidate the work of various teams within CTP. We launched an editorial calendar that repurposes key messages across social media platforms, and we began planning an online publications ordering system that will intersect with promotion and outreach efforts.

Enhancing Data Analytics

We added enhanced data analytics, reports, and tools to help CTP make data-driven decisions. For example, we transform millions of unstructured online mentions into meaningful analyses of trending tobacco conversations on social media. Our data collection via social listening, along with regular reporting and analyses, helps the Center to make programmatic decisions about its content, outreach strategies, and audience engagement.

Delivering CTP’s Story and Messages

More visibly, IQ Solutions designs and creates products that increase awareness of CTP and its work and messages. These branded, multimedia products have included infographics and both static social media images and the first-ever GIFs promoted by the Center.

In our first year of the contract, we supported CTP’s reach to more than 4.5 million touchpoints—more than 500,000 a month—through traditional and social media, materials distribution, exhibits, and web visits.

IQ Solutions collaborated with CTP and its contractors to help launch “Fresh Empire,” an integrated campaign that targets multicultural youth who identify with hip-hop culture. Our support of stakeholder outreach, a bites and b‑roll package, live tweeting, and last-minute onsite logistics prompted the Center to assign us as lead on its next two stakeholder events.

Looking to the Future

Educating audiences about CTP and its role in tobacco regulation will require even greater creativity over the next several years. In preparation for the Center’s highly anticipated deeming rule, IQ Solutions is creating engaging materials in multiple formats to educate wide-ranging audiences about new regulations concerning e-cigarettes and other tobacco products.


We also support CTP’s efforts to deepen relationships with its stakeholders, who can help the Center to frame complex messages and reach new audiences during key regulatory rollouts. Long-term plans include transforming CTP content into a user-centric digital platform—giving audiences access to information in the formats they want and at locations they already frequent.