Rio Hondo College
March 11, 2012
This paper will discuss the American Legacy Foundation and its anti-smoking prevention campaign known as “Truth.” The history of the foundation will be reviewed, and the fundamental elements of the program, including its claims of success, how that success is measured, and the basis for the program design, will be presented. Foundations, Elements and Focus
The Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) between the tobacco industry, 46 state governments and five U.S. territories resulted in the creation of the American Legacy Foundation. The American Legacy Foundation was created in 1999 and is a non-profit 501c health foundation. Using Florida’s Truth program as a model, the American Legacy Foundation started the “Truth” campaign in 2000. Truth was the very first national antismoking campaign to target youths and teens. Truth is currently the largest national youth prevention campaign and the only national campaign not directed by the tobacco industry (Truth - American Legacy Foundation, 2012, para. 1). The main objective of Truth is to reduce youth smoking through changing social norms. The truth campaign sought to reveal the “tricks” and “schemes” tobacco companies were using to try to hook new generations of smokers. The campaign also sought to “brand” rebellion against adults and companies that promoted smoking, particularly in youths. To clarify its mission however, Truth is not an anti-smoking campaign, nor does it seek to ban smoking. Rather, the campaign is focused on anti-manipulations and the disclosure of Big Tobacco’s manipulative tactics as a means to inform and dissuade smoking (Truth - American Legacy Foundation, 2012). The campaign established its success and made its mission “cool” by targeting the inherent, rebellious nature of the target group (teenagers), and reduced the price of the behavior by focusing it towards adults that everyone agreed had been manipulating them. Current studies show that approximately 80% of smokers began smoking before the age of 18 (Truth - American Legacy Foundation, 2012). Based on those statistics, Truth reaches out to a target audience of youths, 12-17 years of age, to try to prevent teens from ever smoking in the first place. Through a “multi dimensional” approach that is constantly evolving, Truth’s goal is to reach youths and engage them interactively with a variety of tools, facts and information that enable them to make more informed decisions regarding tobacco use, tobacco products and even the tobacco industry. This attempt at reaching teens on their level has allowed Truth to exploit various media and social networking outlets that teens do not normally associate with learning. While traditional means of communication, such as television, radio and print advertising are still used, Partnerships & special programming with MTV and Fuel TV put hip new twists on the campaign’s vital message. The information Truth delivers about smoking are ironically equivalent to those presented in antiquated government-sponsored “scare flicks” prevalent in the 1950s and 1960s. Combined with a “grassroots” tour involving interactive games and events, the Truth campaign has managed to keep a strong presence at events such as the Vans Warped Tour. Truth has also linked up with bands like Pennywise. Moreover, it is the employment of sites like Facebook, Twitter, SocialVibe, and YouTube, as well as games and interactive activities on their own website, www.thetruth.com, that has enabled Truth to not only reach the largest numbers of youths, but also has kept their message from getting stale or missing the upcoming generation of 12-17 year olds. Funding and How the Program is Paid
The creation of the American Legacy Foundation was made possible through funding from the National Public Education Fund. As part of the MSA, portions of proceeds from the sale of cigarettes were guaranteed to go to...
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