Tucson CitizenTucson Citizen

`Smelly, puking habit’ target of state’s new campaign


State health officials hope kids and teens will believe smoking is not only unhealthy, but uncool.

The Arizona Department of Health Services yesterday officially unveiled a new anti-smoking campaign and new slogan: “Tobacco: Tumor-Causing, Teeth-Staining, Smelly, Puking Habit.’

The campaign includes TV and radio ads along with educational programs in Arizona schools and other youth centers. The unveiling was held at the Boys & Girls Club, 2585 E. 36th St.

“The tobacco use among youth has really become an epidemic at this point. It’s really a public health issue,’ said Joel S. Meister, Department of Health Services assistant director. “We think (the program is) going to be a flagship program for the country, not just the state.’

Meister said the campaign is intense because more and more young people have taken up smoking since the mid-1980s. He said 90 percent of all tobacco users begin their habit between 10 and 18 years of age. About 28 percent of youths are smoking, 4 percent more than the number of adults who smoke.

Much of Arizona already saw the campaign’s flagship TV ad during the Super Bowl: a mad scientist-type who cannot bring his Frankenstein-like monster to life because the creature has a smoker’s tainted lungs. An estimated 71 percent of Arizona residents saw the commercial during the game.

Meister said children liked the ad during test runs. The 30-second commercial will air about 600 times from yesterday to March 31.

Aggressive TV and radio advertising is being combined with education programs at schools and centers such as the Boys & Girls Club. Meister said the local projects contract has not been awarded yet and that many programs still are in the planning stages.

He said the entire campaign will cover a broad spectrum of issues, including peer pressure, health problems and how to say no to smoking. All Tucson-area projects will begin by the end of the year.

DHS awarded the $5.5 million tobacco-prevention campaign to the Phoenix-based Riester Corp. in December.

Revenues from the 40-cents-per-pack cigarette tax approved in November 1994 will pay for the campaign.

The corporation created the slogan after interviewing dozens of children and asking them questions about smoking and tobacco use, said Tim Riester, president of Riester Corp.

He said children described tobacco use over and over as being a bad, “puking’ habit.

“They don’t want something tumor causing. They don’t want something smelly. They don’t want to be that,’ Riester said.

Meister said the five-year campaign should have a big impact on Arizona’s young people.

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