Unique Partnership Drives the Success of Important Child Safety Initiatives

The Client

With a mission of preventing harm from unintentional poisoning, this 501c3 non-profit is a statewide provider of immediate and expert treatment advice, via telephone, for exposure to any number of poisonous, hazardous, or toxic substances.

The Challenge

Our client encountered concerning and growing numbers of calls regarding unintentional exposure by children to liquid nicotine. As a result, they felt a need and a responsibility to push for language and labeling that would alert parents and children to this risk. Our Strong-Bridge Envision Lead Consultant, Carrie Ulvestad, in the role of the Interim Executive Director, along with the nonprofits’ medical and public education leadership pushed to secure language and product labeling to promote harm reduction among minors and adult users of this product. Their efforts centered around connecting the clinical insight and expertise of the medical experts at the Poison Center with the critical people at the state capital and regulatory organization to result in the most effective legislation possible in this area. The sustained passion and commitment of the organization’s leadership team and the Board of Directors were successful in being key drivers of communication between the organization and state leadership over the course of two legislative sessions. Early in 2016, language was passed into law with the explicit purpose of requiring labeling with product contents to aid in treating unintentional exposures primarily amongst children to liquid nicotine used in e-cigarettes.

After reviewing data in the wake of legalized marijuana in our state, it also became clear there was concern regarding an increase in unintentional exposures by minors. The number of calls related to marijuana exposure reached a single-year high in 2015 with 272 calls. Once again, the organization’s leadership team, and in conjunction with the Board of Directors, developed an organizational strategy to promote harm reduction among minors related to exposure to marijuana and marijuana edibles.In advocating at a state level, our client would be the first state in the country to address unintentional exposures in this manner.

The Solution

At the outset, the plan was to follow a path similar to our e-cigarettes initiative. In this case, it was important to partner with a wide range of constituents and share the findings with the state’s regulating body for marijuana distribution.

Initially, it was recommended that affixing our client’s existing prevention stickers on edibles would be the requirement. But after discussion with the industry and regulatory agency, there was unease about the effectiveness or mixed messaging when using the image on marijuana edibles. The concern was that it might in fact dilute the existing sticker’s effectiveness in messaging targeted to children regarding harmful household substances. Instead, our client offered to present an alternative warning symbol designed with the intention of deterring children from marijuana edibles and products and also direct adults to the organization’s emergency number for treatment guidance.

The result is the “Not For Kids” warning symbol and initiative. It was presented to a group of public health and youth organization stakeholders, as well as several prominent marijuana producer-processors. The symbol itself includes bold, attention grabbing lettering, along with the free emergency helpline number. In addition, a sticker sheet for consumers will be piloted in a small group of retail locations, which includes suggestions for how parents can speak to their children about why the product is okay for parents, but “not for kids.”

The Impact

This symbol will be required on all marijuana edibles beginning in January of 2017. The initiative is a profound example of the power of collaboration. In this case, our client recognized the need to partner with a number of constituents, public and private sector, with varying interests and opinions to ensure the outcome was one in which everyone could find common ground in a timely manner.

The Not For Kids initiative will serve the greater mission of the organization — to prevent harm from exposures through expertise, collaboration, and professional and public education.