- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 4, 2002

RICHMOND (AP) Virginia yesterday became the first state among the top five tobacco producers to kick off an anti-smoking ad campaign aimed at children ages 10 to 14.
The message? Basically, that smoking is really gross and stupid.
Cartoon characters named Lumpy, Addicted Robot and Ciggie Boy offer a variety of medical facts to underscore the slogan, "Smoking sounds stupid, and I choose not to be." Viewers and listeners are invited to visit the campaign Web site, www.ydouthink.com, which includes more of the characters, interactive games and online messaging.
The campaign, created with Virginia's share of the national tobacco-lawsuit settlement, begins a second phase this summer that will include concerts and other events as well as billboards and movie-theater ads.
The seven television commercials and eight radio spots were created by Richmond-based advertising firm Work Inc. and reflect what state tobacco-settlement officials say is "the most extensive research ever undertaken with Virginia youth."
The ads and Web site feature the campaign's "Y?" logo, which was introduced last month.
Marty Kilgore, the Virginia Tobacco Settlement Foundation's executive director, said the campaign is one component of a much broader mission to educate young people about the dangers of tobacco.
Other initiatives supported by the foundation include the award of grants to more than 80 organizations for local anti-tobacco programs and activities, such as anti-smoking puppet shows for preschoolers.
A report released Tuesday by the National Cancer Institute suggests that youth-oriented anti-tobacco marketing may be having an effect. The report said that smoking among adolescents has declined in recent years and noted that campaigns similar to Virginia's have led to significant declines in youth smoking in several states.
Despite uncertainty about future funding in the wake of budget cuts passed this year by Virginia's General Assembly, the foundation is committed to the campaign for $9 million a year for the next three years, said spokesman Peter Sengenberg.
The foundation has funds on hand for the current fiscal year and is exploring alternatives for following years, he said.


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