Legacy, whose Board includes Attorney General Tom Miller, launches new nationwide truth campaign
(DES MOINES, Iowa) A series of television ads launched nationwide Sunday night depicting celebrities pictured smoking cigarettes as “unpaid tobacco” spokespeople, is part of an aggressive nationwide campaign launched by a national organization that aims to curb youth and adult tobacco use.
The ads, which aired on Sunday night’s MTV’s Video Music Awards, include celebrities Rihanna, Lady Gaga and Chris Brown, among others.
The non-profit Legacy, whose Board of Directors includes Attorney General Tom Miller, bought the ads as part of a renewed national youth smoking prevention campaign called “truth.”
"With social media, teens and young adults from here in Iowa have the potential to influence others just as much as a Hollywood celebrity,” Miller said. “This bold and edgy campaign tries to harness their creativity and power to help us end smoking for good.”
The television, website and social media campaign targets 15-21-year-olds.
“We want to remind everyone – not just celebrities – that ending the tobacco epidemic and saving nearly half a million American lives annually is not only possible, but it’s likely if this movement succeeds," Miller added.
Survey: Youth Smoking Declining
Last year, Monitoring the Future, an ongoing nationwide study of the behaviors, attitudes, and values of secondary school students, college students, and young adults, reported in its annual survey that youth smoking rates across the country have dropped below ten percent, the lowest levels in more than two decades.
According to the Iowa Department of Public Health’s Division of Tobacco Use Prevention and Control, the 2012 Iowa Youth Survey found that 12 percent of Iowa’s 11th graders reported using cigarettes.
“We think youth tobacco usage in Iowa and nationally is moving in the right direction, but we’d like to see the numbers go even lower,” Miller said. “We’d like to see the day when teens and adults reject tobacco use altogether.”
Background on Legacy
Legacy is the largest non-profit public health charity in the nation devoted specifically to tobacco control. Legacy was formed as a result of the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) with Miller, attorneys general of 45 states, and the nation’s four largest tobacco companies.
The MSA settled state suits to recover billions of dollars in state health care costs associated with treating smoking-related illnesses. Since then, more than 40 other tobacco companies have signed onto the agreement.
The settlement called for tobacco companies to pay the 46 states $206 billion over 25 years, and continue annual payments beyond 25 years based on the number of cigarettes sold in the United States. The MSA is the largest settlement in U.S. history.
The agreement created a broad array of restrictions on the advertising, marketing and promotion of cigarettes. For example, it bans targeting children through advertising. It also includes prohibitions on outdoor advertising of cigarettes and the advertising of cigarettes in public transit facilities, as well as the use of cigarette brand names on merchandise, and a host of other restrictions.
The central purpose of the MSA was to reduce smoking, and particularly youth smoking in the United States. Since it was announced, cigarette sales in the United States have fallen substantially and youth smoking has declined even more.
Despite these gains, tobacco remains the number one cause of preventable death in the United States.