Trion Ads Blast Bond Proposal

Trion Communications and the American Cancer Society last week unveiled print ads and billboards in Rhode Island intended to spark opposition to a controversial proposal to use tobacco-settlement funds to reduce the state’s budget shortfall.

Executions show the Rhode Is land Capitol with a graveyard of shadowy crosses on its main lawn. “30 years and 100,000 dead to get a settlement with the tobacco industry. Two years and one governor to let it go up in smoke,” the headline says.

The copy blasts a proposal made initially by Gov. Lincoln Almond—and subsequently expanded by the House Finance Committee—to sell $600 million in tax-exempt bonds to private investors. That sale would be funded by the money the state expects to receive over the next 40 years from the settlement made by tobacco companies with 46 states to cover smoking-related healthcare costs. About a dozen states have already taken similar measures to alleviate their budget woes, and Rhode Island lawmakers have said their plan will help curtail spending cuts to other public programs.

Ads from Providence-based Trion contend that, “This plan is wrong. … These much-needed funds should be used to help stop kids from smoking and help adults who want to quit.”