March 23, 2015

Stanton A. Glantz, PhD

The California tobacco control campaign goes back to the future with e-cigarette ads reminiscent of its early media campaign

It is no secret that in recent years I have been critical of the California Department of Public Health's media campaign for loosing its edge.
That just changed with CDPH's launch a of great campaign to educate the public about e-cigarettes.  It is the best thing out there so far.
You can view the two TV ads here and here and a collection of the print ads here.
The program has a great highly interactive website at
This is the press release announcing the campaign:
California Debuts Ads to Counter E-cigarettes
SACRAMENTO – Twenty-five years after launching the first anti-smoking advertisements in the state, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) on Monday, March 23, 2014, will premiere a series of television, digital, and outdoor ads in a new campaign called “Wake Up,” as part of its educational effort to inform the public about the dangers of e-cigarettes.
“California has been a world leader in tobacco use prevention and cessation since 1990, with one of the lowest youth and adult smoking rates in the nation. The aggressive marketing and escalating use of e-cigarettes threatens to erode that progress,” said Dr. Karen Smith, newly appointed CDPH director and state health officer.
CDPH recently released a report and health advisory highlighting areas of concern regarding e-cigarettes, including the sharp rise in e-cigarette use among California teens and young adults, the highly addictive nature of nicotine in e-cigarettes, the surge in accidental nicotine poisonings occurring in young children, and that secondhand e- cigarette emissions contain several toxic chemicals. Research shows that youth and young adults who use e-cigarettes are far more likely to also use traditional cigarettes and other tobacco products.
“Our advertising campaign is telling the public to ‘wake up’ to the fact that these are highly addictive products being mass marketed,” said Dr. Smith.
The advertising campaign includes two television (TV) ads that feature songs from the 1950s and 60s and images portraying the health risks of e-cigarettes. One TV ad underscores the e-cigarette industry’s use of candy flavored ‘e-juice’ and products that entice the next generation to become addicted to nicotine. The second TV spot emphasizes the dangers and addictiveness of e-cigarettes, while exposing the fact that big tobacco companies are in the e-cigarette business. E-cigarettes are largely unregulated at the federal level and companies are not required to disclose what is in their products or how they are made.
To inform the public about the dangers of e-cigarettes, CDPH launched an educational campaign in late January. The advertising component kicks off on March 23 and runs through June 2015, with TV and digital ads on websites, online radio and social media throughout the state. Outdoor ads, including billboards, at gas stations and in malls, and ads in movie theaters will be phased in throughout the campaign. This counter e- cigarette advertising campaign is part of CDPH’s ongoing anti- tobacco media efforts.

In addition to the advertising, the CDPH educational campaign will include:

  • Partnering with the local public health, medical, and child care organizations to increase awareness about the known toxicity of e-cigarettes and the high risk of poisonings, especially to children, while continuing to promote and support the use of proven effective cessation therapies.


  • Joining with the California Department of Education and school officials to assist in providing accurate information to parents, students, teachers, and school administrators on the dangers of e-cigarettes.

The California Tobacco Control Program was established by the Tobacco Tax and Health Protection Act of 1988. The act, approved by California voters, instituted a 25- cent tax on each pack of cigarettes and earmarked five cents of that tax to fund California’s tobacco control efforts. These efforts include supporting local health departments and community organizations, a media campaign, and evaluation and surveillance. California’s comprehensive approach has changed social norms around tobacco-use and secondhand smoke. California’s tobacco control efforts have reduced both adult and youth smoking rates by 50 percent, saved more than one million lives and have resulted in $134 billion worth of savings in health care costs. Learn more at
More e-cigarette materials available, here.




Take a good look at the e-cig website notblowingsmoke. It's pretty slick. In my opinion it's way too slick to be just e-cig enthusiasts.
I smell money. I smell the industry. I smell smoke.
Jon Krueger


The e-cig advocates are pounding on the claim that the California Dept of Public Health is spending $75 million on this campaign. 
That's sounded like a wild exaggeration to me, so I asked the Department what it was really costing.  Here is what they told me:
"The $75 million figure popped up from the American for Taxpayers Reform. It give the impression it’s for  one year and all for e-cigarettes. This is far from the funding reality and here’s background.
"There was an advertising campaign RFP released back in Dec 2013. The California Tobacco Control Program, Advertising Campaign RFP was for <strong;<em;up to</em;</strong; $75 million for a five year period, contingent upon annual appropriation of revenues available. &nbsp;Of course this means up to $15 million/year. &nbsp;It was specified in the RFP that the actual amounts may be lower (which it is). &nbsp;The resulting advertising campaign contract awarded was for &nbsp;<em;up to</em; $75 million over a five year period, but annual funding varies based upon appropriation of revenues by the State Legislature and approval by the Governor. &nbsp;
"For fiscal year 14-15, the media campaign’s budget was $11.03 million, and the total budget for the California Tobacco Control Program was $42 million. &nbsp;Of our media budget, approximately $7 million is being spent on this effort."


By way of comparison: e-cig ad spending estimated at $1 billion last year, and more than that this year. title="
Jon Krueger

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