Anti-smoking ads warn teens they're targets
A tobacco executive dressed in an expensive suit and driving a black convertible sports sedan races down a winding road where he meets a group of teens who strip him of his valuables and tell him they know they're being targeted.
"We may be young, but we're not stupid," one teen shouts.
Suddenly, the man awakens and smiles, realizing it was only a dream.
"We can't let teens know we're targeting them," he says.
But the group bursts through his office door and lets him know that it's too late - they already know.
"The Tobacco Industry Lies" is the first in a series of anti-smoking advertisements aimed at empowering youth to not smoke by highlighting targeted marketing practices. The ad, being released today, will air on prime-time teen-oriented programs on networks such as the WB, UPN and NBC.
"The general message is that teens are aware of what's going on and that we're not going to take it anymore," said Jonathon Woods, 17, a senior at Riverside University High School, who helped develop the ad. "Without us they wouldn't have that fancy car, or fancy watch (so) we're focusing on getting the word out."
The campaign was launched by Fighting Against Corporate Tobacco, part of Wisconsin's effort to deter smoking, and is the result of youth-inspired ideas gathered at the "Kickin' It! To Big Tobacco Bash" held in June.
Plans include the release of more ads and getting more youths to realize that ads in magazines and images on television are aimed at them, he said.
A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine this summer found that the major tobacco companies spent a total of $127 million last year advertising brands popular with youth in magazines such as People, TV Guide, Sports Illustrated, Motor Trend, Mademoiselle and Rolling Stone.
Last month, the Wisconsin Youth Tobacco Survey found that although an overwhelming majority of Wisconsin middle and high school students recognize the health risks of smoking, 32% of middle schoolers and 24% of high school students who had never smoked reported that they intended to try it anyway.
In addition, the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids found that 5.3 million packs of cigarettes are sold illegally to teens in Wisconsin each year and predicts that if current smoking trends among young people continue, 117,000 Wisconsinites who are now under 18 years old will eventually die from smoking-related illnesses.
The advertising campaign and the FACT movement are components of the Wisconsin Tobacco Control Board statewide initiative to decrease tobacco use in the state. Other programs by the board include a Quitline that offers advice and support for people trying to stop smoking, the development of more community-based anti-tobacco coalitions, research grants for the evaluation of programs and policy and legislative recommendations.