Anti-Smoking Ads Are History

Arnold’s decade-long “Make smoking history” campaign for the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, one of the nation’s oldest and best-known anti-smoking initiatives, is going off the air.

The effort, arguably the most recognizable campaign in the Commonwealth, has been suspended following Gov. Jane Swift’s decision to cut the MDPH’s overall $50 million budget for the current fiscal year ending June 30 by a third. About $8 million was earmarked for paid media, and about $3.5 million had been spent.

“You will not see TV, radio or print ads for the rest of the fiscal year,” said MDPH representative Rose anna Pawelec. No new ads from Boston-based Arnold or its subcontractors will be produced, and no additional airtime or print space will be purchased, she said.

Swift has proposed cutting the MDPH’s budget to $19 million for the next fiscal year, which would almost certainly ensure the termination of media advertising. “Make smoking history” could survive in a “stripped-down” version, relying on educa tional/collateral materials and perhaps limited media executions, sources said. Both houses of the state legislature still must submit budget proposals.

The acclaimed campaign helped Ar nold secure a portion of the Ameri can Legacy Foundation’s national anti-smoking account, which it shares with Crispin Porter + Bogusky, Miami.

Massachusetts’ situation mirrors that of several other states with broad tobacco-control initiatives. In Arizona, for example, funding for a campaign from E.B. Lane Marketing Communications, Phoenix, has been trimmed from $10-15 million initially to $3-5 million, and eliminating the media budget altogether remains a possibility.

In Florida, where Crispin Porter handles anti-smoking ads, the media budget has been $5-6 million annually in re cent years, down sharply from $20-25 million when the program began in 1998.

Other states re ducing tobacco-control budgets—some even before the first anti-smoking ads go on the air—include Maine, Ohio, Miss ouri, Montana, Wisconsin and Hawaii, according to the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, an advocacy group based in Washington, D.C.

Marc Boutin, vp of government relations for the American Cancer Society, decried the cuts, maintaining that media advertising is the “No. 1 reason people decide to quit [smoking].” —with Wendy Melillo and Vincent Coppola