As a voter in Rhode Island, your opinion matters to government officials. By creating personal contacts with your state and federal legislators, you can make your voice heard regarding policies that affect the health and wellness of our State, including policies on underage alcohol and marijuana use as well as legalization of recreational marijuana. We can help you with that process. Please make your voice heard.


Can I really impact the public policy process?

The answer is YES. As a member of your community, your voice can add value and have an impact on the policy process by sharing your views on what you see as a need for you, your family, your neighbors, with the goal of making your community a safer and healthier place to live.

Don’t prevention coalitions work on public policies?

Many Rhode Island prevention coalitions are now primarily funded from federal sources and are prevented from lobbying for policies and laws even when there is evidence that these are effective prevention strategies. Rhode Island eliminated prevention funding from the State budget in 2015.

What types of policies are we talking about?

  • Increased age of legal use
  • increased taxes on legal substances
  • increased surveillance and enforcement of existing laws such as social host, keg registration, mandatory breathalyzer, driving under the influence, and service to minors.


  • Zoning restrictions to limit outlet density
  • Training of alcohol servers and sellers
  • Programs for minors arrested for underage possession/use of illegal substances.


  • Preventing use of substances at all school related functions
  • Holding athletes and participants in school organizations to a no-use policy even when not in school
  • monitoring bathrooms and parking lots for youth substance use.

Make Your Voice Heard

Some ways you can affect policies in your community and state.

  1. Register online at for bill tracking and follow the progress of bills that are of interest to you. Register here

  2. Contact your legislators and ask them what their opinion is on substance abuse prevention issues. Most legislators want to hear from their constituents and will accept email, letters, and phone conversations.

  3. Join your local or regional coalition and ask to sit on the policy committee.

  4. Attend local and state hearings when issues concerning prevention are discussed. For instance, many local planning and zoning committees periodically address commercialization of drugs such as electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS or vapes), alcohol, and marijuana.

Resources on Public Policy Change

Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA)

Strategizer on public health policy change. Read more

American Public Health Association (APHA)

Join APHA members, Affiliates and other advocates in educating members of Congress on important public health issues that help build and maintain healthy communities. Read more


Policy Recommendations from the Center for Alcohol Marketing to Youth at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Read more

Model Underage Drinking Laws. Read more


ChangeLab Solutions – Licensing Ordinance Checklist. Read more

ChangeLab Solutions – Tobacco Retailer Licensing. Read more

Tobacco Free Rhode Island – Age 21 Policy Brief. Read more


Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM) Read more