Pennsylvania Governor Ridge Thanks Pennsylvania Outdoor Advertising Association for Extending Anti-Tobacco Billboard Campaign
ERIE, Pa., March 16 /PRNewswire/ -- Pa. Gov. Tom Ridge today thanked the Outdoor Advertising Association of Pennsylvania for extending the Commonwealth's youth anti-tobacco billboard campaign. Members of the association have donated billboard space to kee
``By offering to keep the anti-tobacco ads on display, the Outdoor Advertising Association of Pennsylvania displays its commitment to telling our children not to smoke,'' said Gov. Ridge. ``We appreciate the association's support, and we welcome its generous donation of billboard space.''
The two series of ads are based on focus-group studies that identify messages likely to reach kids. One group of ads seeks to use humor and to capitalize on youthful concerns about appearances. An example includes a representation of the words ``Butt Head.'' The other group of ads gets its impact from ``shock value'' and depicts cigarettes as a bullet and a syringe.
The billboards are aimed specifically at children ages 9 to 14 to help discourage them from starting to smoke and to persuade those who have started smoking to stop.
The association began extending the anti-tobacco campaign in January.
``Pennsylvania's outdoor advertising companies were pleased to continue these billboards free of charge because of their effective anti-smoking message,'' said George Merovich, President of the Outdoor Advertising Association of Pennsylvania. ``It is a long-standing tradition and commitment of the Outdoor Advertising Association of Pennsylvania to donate space to various worthwhile community projects and efforts.''
The Department of Health, state Physician General Dr. Robert S. Muscalus and the state Attorney General's Office unveiled the ads last May. The national settlement agreement with the tobacco industry ordered 14,000 billboard ads for cigarettes across the country to be taken down by the end of last April. Pennsylvania used the remaining advertising time for nearly 400 billboards previously contracted by tobacco companies for the new anti-tobacco ads.
The Department of Health has other anti-tobacco initiatives in place. The Pennsylvania Tobacco Prevention Network, funded by the Department of Health, establishes a network of more than 60 community-based coalitions across the state involved in tobacco prevention and control at the local level. The Youth Against Tobacco Campaign is a statewide campaign to encourage youth to take a pledge and unite to promote a tobacco-free society and a no-use message about tobacco.
The Ridge Administration launched the statewide ``Stop the Sale -- Prevent the Addiction'' campaign in December 1996. The campaign is aimed at reducing youth access to tobacco products, including strategies to meet federal requirements. Key elements of this campaign include educating retailers about their responsibility and obligations; conducting random, unannounced visits of Pennsylvania tobacco retail outlets with youth volunteers; and establishing community partnerships. This initiative also includes a toll-free ``hotline'' to report unlawful tobacco sales and to respond to requests for information. The hotline number is 1-888-275-4434 or 1-888-ASK-4-ID-4.
The Health Department also works with local and regional partners in federally funded compliance and enforcement programs, and supports outreach efforts to discourage tobacco use.
The national tobacco-settlement agreement also resulted in an allocation of $206 billion to be paid out to participating states over the next 25 years. Payments are expected to continue in perpetuity.
Pennsylvania's share of the settlement is expected to amount to more than $11 billion over the next 25 years. The Commonwealth expects to receive a maximum of between $397 million and $459 million a year.
On Feb. 8, Gov. Ridge unveiled his 2000-01 budget, proposing to invest Pennsylvania's share of the national tobacco settlement in a broad range of initiatives to improve Pennsylvanians' health. Gov. Ridge's proposal -- called Pennsylvania's Health Investment Plan -- includes a dramatic initiative to provide health insurance to tens of thousands of uninsured Pennsylvanians, and a plan to enable older Pennsylvanians to get the health-care services they need to continue to live at home, not in a nursing home. The Governor's plan earmarks 15 percent of the settlement dollars for tobacco prevention and cessation.
Pennsylvania received its first tobacco installment of $123 million in December, and a second installment of $142 million on Jan. 10. The next installment is expected in April.