Aim To describe the process surrounding the creation of the first organization in the world to be funded from an earmarked tax on tobacco products, the Victorian Health Promotion Foundation (VicHealth), and to outline briefly its subsequent history.
Description The genesis of VicHealth came from an interest of the Minister for Health in the Victorian State Government to address the tobacco problem, and the strategic capacity of Dr Nigel Gray from the Anti-Cancer Council of Victoria to provide a vehicle and help the government to muster support for its implementation. Success involved working with government to construct a Bill it was happy with and then working with the community to support the implementation and to counter industry attempts to derail it. The successful Bill led to the creation of VicHealth. VicHealth has played a creative and important role in promoting health not only in Victoria (Australia), but has been a stimulus for similar initiatives in other parts of the world.
Conclusions Enacting novel advances in public policy is made easier when there is a creative alliance between advocates outside government working closely with governments to develop a proposal that is politically achievable and then to work together to sell it. Health promotion agencies, once established, can play an important role in advancing issues like tobacco control.