• truth campaign asks #FinishIT
  • truth campaign calls on young people to “X Your Profile” on social media & show support for ending tobacco use
  • With teen smoking rates at historic lows, truth believes young people have the creativity, smarts & commitment to end tobacco use for good
  • truth maintains every time a smoking-related photo is posted, Big Tobacco benefits as smoking is ‘normalized’

The End of Tobacco?

truth® Rallies Teens to Harness Their Online Influence to Become the First Smoke-Free Generation

Proven-Effective Youth Smoking Prevention Campaign
Launches New Chapter, Challenges Teens to – "Finish It"

/ PR Newswire / — On Sunday, August 24, truth®, the nation’s largest and longest running youth smoking prevention campaign, premiered the latest advertisements in its new Finish It campaign, titled “Unpaid” and “Response”. Both aired during the hugely popular MTV Video Music Awards broadcast — an annual music awards ceremony that attracts millions of viewers and sparks immediate cultural conversations. Teen smoking rates are at their lowest levels in 22 years, and through the Finish It campaign, truth aims to enlist this generation to end smoking for good.  
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The newest ads in the campaign shine a light on the fact that smoking images have impact, including celebrity images.  Those images can affect societal acceptance of and subsequent behavior around smoking and use of tobacco products.

“Tobacco companies continue to adapt their tactics in order to attract new customers and smokers themselves have inadvertently become their best ‘marketers’ — whether they recognize it or not,” said Robin Koval, CEO and President of Legacy®, the national public health foundation that directs and funds truth. “We created the ‘Finish It’ campaign to empower teens to make the fight against tobacco use their own. We want to remind them that their generation has the power to accelerate the decline in youth smoking and even end it for good.”

Acting United States Surgeon General Boris D. Lushniak, M.D., M.P.H., has unequivocally stated when it comes to the issue of tobacco and our nation’s youth: “Enough is enough.” According to the 2014 US Surgeon General's Report on Smoking and Health, if tobacco trends continue at the current trajectory, 5.6 million children alive today under 18 will die prematurely as a result of smoking. Data also demonstrate that the depiction of cigarette smoking in movies continues to glamorize its use for young people and substantially increases smoking initiation by youth. 

The two most recent Surgeon General Reports concluded that an industrywide standard to rate movies with tobacco incidents “R” could result in reductions in youth smoking, and that such a rating would be expected to reduce the number of teen smokers by nearly one in five (18%). According to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention factsheet giving an R rating to future movies with smoking would be expected to prevent one million deaths from smoking among children alive today. This further builds the case that on–screen images of smoking do indeed have an impact on youth and their decision to smoke.

The Finish It campaign provides teens with the tools to make this a fight they can own and – ultimately — can win. In 2000, when truth launched, the teen smoking rate was at 23 percent. The 2013 Monitoring the Future study finds that the rate of teen smoking has significantly declined to below ten percent.  This means that an overwhelming majority of teens — 91 percent — don’t use tobacco products. The Finish It campaign seeks to build on this momentum and rally this generation to “finish it”.

truth launched its new Finish It campaign earlier this month on television and online, with the release of the ad Finishers. That spot set the stage for the full campaign by proclaiming this generation’s power to make a real difference and challenging them to do so. “Unpaid” — the latest thought–provoking spot — premiered Sunday, August 24, on cable television.

“Through the power of social media, the reality is that everyone is a ‘celebrity’ now in their own social circles and networks, whether they have 50 or 50,000 followers,” said Eric Asche, Chief Marketing Officer, Legacy. “Every ‘like’ and every ‘share’ of a smoking–related picture on social media is a big win for Big Tobacco, contributing toward the re–glamorization and renormalization of this behavior. We want all influencers, whether they are celebrities or not, to realize just how much power and influence they now have. We want to help them understand their value and to use the tools they have to eradicate smoking.”

The fully integrated campaign also has strong digital and social media components including:

  • A relaunched website – thetruth.com, offering a set of tools to help youth join the fight and show their support.
  • X Your Profile – a tool encourages supporters to join the movement by uploading the Finish It “X” to their social media profile picture(s).
  • Erase & Replace – sharable content which removes cigarettes from photos on social media, and encourages teens and young people to use their own creativity and sense of fun to replace cigarette–related images with other images.

The truth campaign has a proven track record of effectiveness and has been a key contributor to the decline in youth smoking: 

  • There are 450,000 fewer smokers as a direct result of the truth campaign
  • Teens aware of truth are twice as likely to say they do not intend to smoke in the future
  • truth has saved between 1.9 and 5.4 billion in medical care costs to society

While teen smoking rates are at an all–time low, the emergence of new tobacco products and refocused efforts by the tobacco industry clearly demonstrate that truth, in conjunction with other smoking prevention programs at the national, state and local levels, must be more aggressive than ever to get that percentage down to zero.

truth will continue to surprise and encourage participation through the remainder of the year with a fully integrated media, PR and events campaign including television, content integrations with popular TV programming, online branded integrations with trending youth online networks and personalities, social networks, online radio, search and video, cinema and a grassroots tour with more than 100 events. The entire media buy will reach well over 35 million 15–21 year olds.

The campaign will be additive and complementary to existing campaigns from the federal government via the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), by building on the historic strength of truth’s proven–effective strategies and tactics.  

“No other generation has the opportunity to end smoking for good more so than this one,” said Koval. “We’re so close to achieving our goal of reducing the youth smoking rate to zero. We know that young people have the power, the creativity and the tools to finish this job. This campaign calls on that power by providing a platform to grow a true social movement and foster social change.”

For more information on how to join the Finish It campaign or to download the X Your Profile Web–based tool, visit www.thetruth.com, join the campaign on Facebook (facebook.com/truthorange) or follow truth on Twitter at @truthorange and #FinishIT.

The Finish It campaign was created by Legacy and its creative agency of record: 72andSunny.

ABOUT truth
truth® is the largest national youth smoking prevention campaign. The campaign exposes the tactics of the tobacco industry, the truth about addiction, and the health effects and social consequences of smoking. truth gives teens facts and information about the tobacco industry and its products, allowing them to make their own informed choices about tobacco use. Research–proven as an effective public health intervention, the campaign is credited with keeping hundreds of thousands of teens from starting to smoke. To learn more, visit www.thetruth.com. truth is directed and funded by Legacy, a national public health foundation located in Washington, D.C. Legacy was created as a result of the November 1998 Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) reached between attorneys general from 46 states, five U.S. territories and the tobacco industry. To learn more about Legacy’s life–saving programs, visit www.LegacyForHealth.org.

Legacy envisions an America where tobacco is a thing of the past, where all youth and young adults reject tobacco use. Legacy’s proven–effective and nationally recognized public education programs include truth®, the national youth smoking prevention campaign that has been cited as contributing to significant declines in youth smoking; EX®, an innovative public health program designed to speak to smokers in their own language and change the way they approach quitting; and research initiatives exploring the causes, consequences and approaches to reducing tobacco use. Legacy also develops programs to address the health effects of tobacco use — with a focus on priority populations disproportionately affected by the toll of tobacco — through alliances, youth activism, training and technical assistance. Located in Washington, D.C., the foundation was created as a result of the November 1998 Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) reached between attorneys general from 46 states, five U.S. territories and the tobacco industry. To learn more about Legacy’s life–saving programs, visit www.LegacyForHealth.org.

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