Sunnyside, TUSD anti-tobacco ads generate revenue
Sixteen buses in the Sunnyside Unified School District have promoted a tobacco-free lifestyle for about seven months - and the district expects to include dozens more in the program next school year.
The move isn't unique in Tucson. Hundreds of ads with anti-tobacco and pro-clean energy messages began appearing on Tucson Unified School District buses last fall. TUSD also plans to continue its positive-message campaign, which has reaped thousands of dollars in revenue.
In Sunnyside, the ads first appeared on elementary school buses after the board approved the measure in October. It has brought $4,300 in revenue to the district, about $650 per month, Assistant Superintendent Gene Repola said. The ads, in English and Spanish, offer words of encouragement and alternatives to tobacco use: "Inhale life" and "Be Active." They were created by the Arizona Department of Health Services Education and Prevention Program and target elementary- and middle-school students. They bring in money through corporate sponsorship.
Repola said ads could appear on about 40 more buses next year, all of which would transport middle-school students.
TUSD has had 132 ads on an undetermined number of buses, transportation director Bill Ball said. Some buses have only one sign, while others have as many as four. On Wednesday, the board approved the addition of more signs in the future to target parents who pick up their kids at bus stops.
The campaigns are expected to bring more than $50,000 to the district this school year. In TUSD, the revenue will be used for bus improvements, Ball said. More ads are expected for next school year as the district brings more clean-air buses into its fleet and more advertisers into the program.
"Every ad has to be pleasing to the eye as well as have a positive message," Ball said.
Repola said Sunnyside hasn't made a decision on how the new funds will be spent. But the money could be used to help pay for transportation expenses for field trips and extracurricular activities, he said.
No other Tucson district has ads on buses, but two districts in the Phoenix area participate in such programs.
Contact reporter Jeff Commings at 573-4191 or firstname.lastname@example.org.