Ohio starts new anti-smoking campaign
TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) -- Hip-hop music and body piercings are the attention grabbers in the state's new anti-smoking campaign aimed at keeping children from lighting up.
Television commercials in the $50 million campaign rolled out Thursday are edgy and use words young people understand.
One features an eyebrow pierced 15-year-old who says she's "freaking sick" of seeing so many people smoking.
"I stand for not smoking because that's what's right for me. You cool with that?" says Brooke Moore, a student at Oakwood High School near Dayton.
Another spot has a hip-hop flair with a student who waves away smoke and shakes his head in disgust as he is surrounded by smokers at home and on his way to school.
"Kids pay attention to kids," said Attorney General Betty Montgomery. The ads will begin airing statewide Friday.
It's the state's biggest campaign to date to stop children from smoking. The money is coming from the 1998 national settlement with the tobacco industry, in which Ohio was promised as much as $10 billion over 26 years.
Already, though, some of that money is in danger of being diverted.
Gov. Bob Taft proposed this week using about $224 million from the fund to reduce smoking among children and minorities to balance the state budget.
Montgomery said Thursday she hopes that money will eventually be repaid into the anti-smoking fund to pay for future advertising campaigns.
The state's current advertising campaign sought the input of young people before hitting the airwaves.
"Big Tobacco has gotten to where they are because they've figured out how to involve kids," said Michael Renner, head of the Tobacco Use Prevention and Control Foundation. "We're going to stop them in their tracks."
The foundation is one of seven trust funds created after the 1998 national settlement. As part of that settlement, tobacco companies agreed to stop ad campaigns that are attractive to children.
Ohio is third in the nation among adult smokers, and four out of 10 high school students in the state say they used tobacco within a month, according to government studies.
That's why so much attention is being given to the four-year campaign called "stand" -- as in "stand up" against smoking.
It will include TV ads, billboards and community programs that will teach kids about the effects of smoking. Renner said they will have a youth advisory council that will make sure younger voices are heard as the campaign continues.
It also will focus attention on smoking among minorities and pregnant women.
The anti-tobacco ads were shown to about 300 people Thursday in McTigue Junior High School's gymnasium in Toledo, the city with the nation's highest smoking rate.
Stephanie Miller, a senior at Liberty-Benton High School near Findlay, said she thinks the ads will get the attention of young people.
"I was really surprised when she said freaking," Miller said.
The foundation decided to kick off its anti-smoking campaign in Toledo, where more than 31 percent of its residents said they were smokers, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report.
"We're going to do everything we can to cut that figure down," said Toledo Mayor Jack Ford. "I'm going to be very active on this."
Ford, who served on a committee while he was in the Legislature that looked into youth smoking, said tobacco companies in the past were effective in using advertising to attract young smokers.
"All we're doing is giving them a dose of their own tactics," he said.