Tool Kit

The Tool Kit has moved here.

Moving formula marketing out of hospitals requires a culture change. Many doctors and nurses enjoy giving patients a “free gift,” and don’t appreciate the hidden costs associated with marketing strategies.

Staff may not realized that free samples are linked with earlier use of formula among nursing mothers in randomized controlled trials. Professionals who have never purchased formula may not realize that name-brand products cost a third more than store-brand products, raising costs considerably for bottle-feeding families. Educating care providers and hospital adminsitrators about these issues is the first step toward eliminating these marketing practices. To start the conversation, review our talking points.

This tool kit includes materials developed by the Massachusetts Breastfeeding Coalition and Ban the Bags, as well as letters of support from regional and national organizations.

Whether you are a parent, a concerned citizen, a public health advocate or a health care provider, you can change this practice. Browse our materials for ideas and inspiration, or Download Our Complete Tool Kit for background information, supporting data and educational materials to start lobbying for change in your community.

Oregon Community Health Partnership wins public health award

In 2007, Portland, Oregon became the first “Bag Free” city in the US, when all 15 maternity hospitals stopped marketing formula to new mothers. The Oregon Community Health Partnership, the Nursing Mothers’ Counsel of Oregon and the Breastfeeding Coalition of Oregon joined forces to present awards to “Bag Free” hospitals and draw attention to the negative consequences of formula marketing. They summarized their success in an award-winning poster for the Oregon Public Health Association.

The Language of Banning the Bags

By Melissa Bartick, MD, MS
Chair, Massachusetts Breastfeeding Coalition

February, 2007 — In Massachusetts, getting hospitals to stop marketing baby formula became a battle of words fought in the press and in the corridors of the State House. In February 2006, then-Governor Mitt Romney directed our state’s Public Health Council to rescind the country’s first state regulation to ban hospital distribution of formula company discharge bags. Romney, his spokesman, and other opponents of the ban argued that women should be “free to choose” how they feed their babies, and that women should not be “forced” to breastfeed. Continue reading

Ban the Bags Launched at ILCA

Marsha Walker, RN, IBCLC, and Anne Merewood, MPH, IBCLC, launched the Ban the Bags Campaign at a plenary session at the International Lactation Consultants Association meeting. View their PowerPoint talk to learn more about the struggle to curb pharmaceutical company influence in Massachusetts and the national campaign to remove marketing tactics from maternity wards.

Supporting Letters

The Massachusetts Breastfeeding Coalition gathered letters from multiple state and national organizations in support of a state ban on formula company marketing in hospitals. The CDC, the American Public Health Association, the Massachusetts Public Health Association and District I of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology all urged the governor to reinstate the ban. Continue reading