7 Virginia Shops Vie for $30 Mil.

The Virginia Tobacco Settlement Foundation has named seven finalists in the review for its three-year, $30 million anti-smoking campaign.

The Richmond, Va.-based foundation will consider Arnold in McLean, Va.; and Barber Martin Advertising, Edelman Scott, Work Inc., Neathawk Dubuque, The Burford Co. and Siddall Mattus & Coughter, all in Richmond.

The agencies will deliver presentations to the client in late May. According to foundation spokesman Michael Joseph, a final decision will be made June 5.

Discussions at a pre-proposal conference centered around how to most effectively reach the target audience of youths under 18. That challenge also involves creating a campaign that delivers the facts about smoking’s health-related risks without offending the in-state companies involved in the tobacco business.

Virginia follows North Carolina, Kentucky, Tennessee and South Carolina in tobacco production.

“Tobacco has a significant economic impact in this state,” said Joseph. “People don’t want us to treat their employers as villains.”

He also said the state “will not be looking at teenagers as indefensible victims. It’s too negative.”

The campaign is expected to stress teens’ freedom of choice.