Legacy Girds for Budget Battle

The American Legacy Foundation’s campaign to push states to maintain money from the settlement with tobacco companies for anti-smoking efforts comes too late for an Illinois program, which has been scrapped.

Newspaper ads from Arnold in Boston are running in nine states including Illinois, Pennsylvania and Michigan, urging lawmakers to increase the amount of money from the Master Settlement Agreement with tobacco companies on anti-tobacco programs.

With budgets pinched by the slow economy, legislators have used the settlement to shore up budgets, the American Legacy Foundation argues.

The organization claims that states have allocated just 5 percent of the $205 billion in funds from the 1998 settlement between tobacco companies and state attorneys general to anti-tobacco programs.

In Illinois, a fiscal crunch has led the state to divert funding that had been going to an anti-smoking campaign, spelling the end of a campaign created by high school students in the state along with Hadrian’s Wall in Chicago.

Funds for the campaign, an estimated $20 million over two years, were funneled through the Illinois Department of Public Health. The money came from the settlement, but Illinois did not use the national American Legacy advertising by Arnold and Crispin Porter + Bogusky, using the student-created campaign instead. Spots in the effort focused on All Smoke High, where everyone puffs and hacks away. The national ads take a similarly dark tack, with spots this summer from CP+B showing people dressed as lab rats talking about the dangers of smoking.

Tom Schafer, communications chief for the Illinois program, said the Legacy Foundation’s funding effort is too little, too late. “They should have done it back in May,” he said.

The last ads from Hadrian’s Wall are set to break later this month. Those spots, one of which runs for two minutes, depict the students realizing they’ve been duped by the tobacco executive who sponsors All Smoke High and rising up in revolt.