Black People Against Tobacco (Project BAT)

Project BAT builds the capacity of Jackson, Mississippi, residents to fight tobacco use by changing how people view, accept, and utilize tobacco–and it conducts research evaluating the project in Jackson in order to advance knowledge of how changing social norms can help prevent and reduce smoking to improve health outcomes.

Although smoking has decreased by more than half over the last 50 years, reductions have been uneven by race, income, and geography. Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death among Black Americans, who are dying at higher rates than other groups from tobacco-related diseases such as cancer, heart disease, and stroke. The field of tobacco control has been successful in defining broad best practices. But social norms related to tobacco use remain the same in communities suffering from racialized disinvestment and coercive practices from policies, government, and commerce systems, including predatory marketing practices.

The initiative

Project BAT has engaged the community to design interventions to change norms on tobacco use since 2019. Now, this new grant award—part of the CDC research funding stream “Reducing Inequities in Cancer Outcomes through Community-Based Interventions on Social Determinants of Health”—presents a unique opportunity to continue Project BAT and evaluate its success in engaging communities to shift social norms that influence tobacco use, putting racial justice front and center.

Through this funding, CAI is leading a new project, with our partners at NYU School of Medicine, to rigorously evaluate the success of Project BAT’s efforts using a randomized control design study and applied, mixed-methods evaluation approaches to assess implementation. The research study is guided by a Study Advisory Group, comprising policy, equity, and tobacco-use experts, to offer advice, feedback, and guidance during the study’s design and implementation.

The impact

Project BAT will advance knowledge of social norms that contribute to improved health outcomes for people in Jackson, Mississippi, and inform future work to galvanize social change among historically underserved communities.

Project funder and key partners

  • Funder: U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “Reducing Inequities in Cancer Outcomes through Community-Based Interventions on Social Determinants of Health”
  • Partners: NYU Grossman School of Medicine, OneVoice, My Brother’s Keeper, Fahrenheit Creative Group

Leadership and contact

  • Lindsay Senter, Principal Investigator, Research Director for CAI
  • Maisha Drayton, Community Engagement Subject Matter Expert