Teen smoking-prevention group plans fresh round of anti-tobacco ads
A new round of anti-tobacco ads that will be introduced this month in Minnesota are meant to show the public that the tobacco industry has actively marketed cigarettes to children.
The ads were conceived and produced in conjunction with some of the teenage members of Target Market, a youth smoking-prevention effort. Campbell Mithun Esty, a Minneapolis advertising firm, is leading it.
The television, radio and billboard campaign uses quotes from tobacco industry officials. In one example, an executive with the maker of Newport cigarettes acknowledges that "the base of our business is the high school student."
The campaign's quotes and other information were discovered in documents that came to light in lawsuits, including Minnesota's, against tobacco manufacturers. Copies of many of these documents will be brought to schools throughout the state in a traveling exhibit being developed.
"A lot of the quotes just stunned me," said Nicole Knothe, a high school student from Eden Prairie and one of the Target Market members who appears in one of the four television ads.
Target Market is funded with money that the Legislature set aside from the tobacco lawsuit settlement. Initially, about $8 million has been budgeted for advertising campaigns.
Minnesota wants to reduce youth smoking 30 percent by 2005.
A recent state survey found that 39 percent of Minnesota high school students smokecigarettes, which is 4 percent higher than the national average. Cigarette use among Minnesota middle school students is 13 percent, about the same as the national average.
Target Market is setting up local chapters from the base of 10,000 Minnesota teenagers who have signed up with the organization. Interest has exceeded expectations -- state officials expected that just 2,000 teenagers to sign up by this time.
More information about the commercials and tobacco-industry documents is available at the organization's Web site at http://www.tmvoice.com.