Anti-Smoking Campaign Working, Health Officials Say
LITTLE ROCK â€” The anti-smoking campaign being funded with money from Arkansas' tobacco settlement appears to be off to a good start, state Health Department officials say.
A telephone survey was done last year to determine whether the campaign's message, through television, radio and newspaper advertising, has been heard.
The results, Boozman said, are "quite remarkable."
Nine of 10 youths surveyed said they have either seen, heard or read an advertisement or announcement against smoking.
Specifically, the Stamp Out Smoking slogan was recalled by 73 percent of youths surveyed.
The department also announced the startup of the Stamp Out Smoking Quitline, which is an extension of the Stamp Out Smoking campaign.
Voters in 2000 approved the tobacco settlement spending plan, initiated Act 1, for the roughly $50 million a year the state receives from the national settlement with tobacco companies.
The anti-smoking campaign has received $24.6 million in the past two years for the prevention and education programs.
Department of Health Director Dr. Fay Boozman said last week that the target of the campaign, so far, has been teen-agers and young adults.
"They are the target for much of the advertising and marketing by tobacco companies," he said. "We know if we can prevent these kids from ever using tobacco, we can improve the health of Arkansans."
"One of every two smokers dies from a smoking-related illness," Boozman said, adding that Arkansas has more than 500,000 smokers and the third highest death rate from smoking in the nation.
The smoking survey, by Opinion Research Associates, Inc., of Little Rock, asked youths between ages 12 and 18 about anti-smoking advertisements that ran from February through June 2002. At least one youth from every county was surveyed.
It found that 44 percent of the youths surveyed said the ads were effective in getting them to stop smoking. Thirty percent said the ads were somewhat effective.
One ad, which featured a personal message from a woman who still smokes despite having a tracheotomy, was recalled by 63 percent of the youths surveyed.
"The numbers are quite remarkable when you realize the campaign has only been in the market since February," Boozman said.
The survey, and other surveys planned for this year, will be used to measure the success of the department's anti-tobacco campaign.
"We are laying the groundwork to measure how much we are able to change the understanding and beliefs of Arkansans about smoking," Boozman said.