Can anybody tell us why smoking isn’t stupid?


Funded by a multi-billion dollar settlement with tobacco product manufacturers, and in an effort to help prevent and reduce the use of tobacco products by children and youth in Virginia, the Virginia Tobacco Settlement Foundation (VTSF) has launched a massive statewide ad campaign. Extensive youth marketing research was performed, and the results used in creating a multifaceted anti-smoking, anti- tobacco use media blitz. It is clear that a great deal of money, time, and effort have already gone into this project, and for once, it seems to be working.

The campaign’s tagline is Can anybody tell us why smoking isn’t stupid?, and the central visual element of the movement is a black letter Y in a bright yellow circle, with a smaller, encircled question mark next to it. At the center of this campaign is the website,   which has been designed to be interactive, informative, and most of all fun for “teens and tweens.” The site features a “chatbot” and a rant section, a Skate Park game, and a video mixing board where kids can create and then e-mail videos to each other. Banner ads are scheduled to appear on sites popular with 10 to 14-year olds, including Sony, EA, and Bolt. Television ads include the animated character Lumpy, a teenaged boy who learns a series of painful lessons about smoking, and 30- and 60 second commercials highlighting such attractive facts as "girls who smoke are seven times more likely to get excess facial hair"   and   "teens who smoke produce twice as much phlegm as teens who don’t." The ads are funny, and gross, and they bypass the usual "Smoking isn't cool" propaganda that usually backfires and makes antismoking commercials seem lame.

In addition to the TV and radio advertisements currently airing and soon to be released, the VTSF has planned and begun to implement billboards, movie theatre ads, street marketing activities (including the distribution of ‘zines, stickers, and buttons), song-writing contests, and a concert series featuring nationwide talents.

This is, IMHO, a very commendable program—especially considering that tobacco is a HUGE cash crop for many Virginians. VTSV’s foundation board has stated its mission, in part, as:

  • Educate youth to the adverse health, economic and social effects of tobacco use
  • Educate parents and guardians to the adverse health, economic and social effects of tobacco use for their children in the context of strategies to educate their children
  • Promote school and community-based programs that target youth tobacco reduction
  • Serve as an advocate/resource to Virginia lawmakers on legislative initiatives to reduce youth tobacco use
  • Promote research to study ways to reduce the deleterious effects of tobacco as well as to reduce the social, economic and environmental effects of tobacco use by youth
  • Develop marketing strategies to promote the efforts of the Foundation
  • Serve as the hub of all youth tobacco reduction efforts in the Commonwealth by creating a comprehensive approach to the issue
  • Leverage the resources of the foundation to encourage private sector investments in order to develop public/private partnerships to address this issue *

More power to ‘em.


For more info, visit: * Or better yet, steer some kids toward