Anti-Smoking Ads Are History as Funding Dries Up

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 MDPH sus pended the ef fort following Gov. Jane Swift’s decision to cut the Commonweath’s $50 million budget for the fiscal year ending June 30 by a third. About $8 million was earmarked for paid media for the campaign, 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 advertising. “Make smoking history” could survive in a “stripped-down” version, relying on educational and collateral materials, sources said. Both houses of the state legislature still must submit budget proposals.

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

Massachusetts’ situation mirrors that of several states with broad tobacco-control initiatives. In Arizona, 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 is a possibility.

In Florida, where CP+B handles anti-smoking ads, the media budget has been $5-6 million annually in recent years, down from $25 million a year when the program began in 1998.

Other states reducing tobacco-control budgets—some even before airing their first anti-smoking ads—include Maine, Ohio, Missouri, Montana, Wisconsin and Hawaii, according to the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, an advocacy group based in Washington, D.C.