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By Richard Asinof
PROVIDENCE – The new media campaign by the R.I. Department of Health’s anti-tobacco campaign aimed at teens doesn’t mince words.
“Nearly 1,800 people die every year from tobacco in Rhode Island,” one print ad begins. “Tobacco companies target kids to replace them.” The ad features a photo of a teen with a barcode across his forehead, with the word replacement embedded within it. The campaign’s slogan: Be an original. Don’t be a replacement.”
The campaign also features radio and TV spots with the voice of Victor Crawford, a former lobbyist who worked for The Tobacco Institute, from a 1996 “60 Minutes” interview with Leslie Stahl where he admitted that he had lied about the dangerous health impacts of tobacco and that the tobacco industry was targeting teenagers.
The overarching theme is captured in the campaign’s message: “Tobacco users have a short shelf life. Teens are their replacement. The ads can be found on a new Facebook page, www.facebook.com/BeAnOriginal.
“The youth campaign aims to combat the tobacco industry’s deceptive marketing practices,” said Dr. Michael Fine, director of the R.I. Department of Health. “Today’s youth are bombarded by advertising of cigarettes, new lines of candy-flavored, smokeless and even dissolvable tobacco products designed to appeal to them. These products are dangerously addictive and youth need the tools to fight back.”