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Tobacco-control media campaign conference

In 1999, Sutton Social Marketing, Washington, organized and coordinated a conference on strengthening the impact and effectiveness of media campaigns as part of a comprehensive program to reduce the use of tobacco by young people.

In part because of the multistate settlement between the tobacco industry and state attorneys general, about 25 states were either conducting such campaigns or considering doing so at the time of the conference.

Key Results

  • The conference took place June 10–11, 1999, in Chicago. A total of 70 representatives attended from 42 organizations, including nine state governments.

    National organizations represented included:
    • The National Association of Attorneys General.
    • The American Legacy Foundation (created by the multi-state settlement between the tobacco industry and the State Attorneys General).
    • The Office of National Drug Control Policy.

    The conference included six sessions on the following topics:
    • The state of the art of counter-marketing media campaigns.
    • How to develop and assess communications strategies.
    • How to evaluate message strategies.
    • The implications of the national Philip Morris media campaign (a youth smoking prevention program begun by the tobacco company in 1998).
    • Youth perceptions of risk and their implications in tobacco media campaigns.
    • Collaboration between national and state-level programs and campaigns.

Key Recommendations

Based on conference evaluation questionnaires, Sutton Social Marketing distilled a number of recommendations, including:

  • Planning more small meetings similar to this one (which encouraged interaction among participants), in addition to the usual larger open forums held each year on this issue.
  • Using future meetings to help create mechanisms for collaboration among states, national organizations, and private organizations, and to identify support for building them.
  • Changing the current communication practices of the states by demonstrating the benefits to each of them of using marketing principles and strategies.


The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) supported the conference with a grant of $49,830 between June 1999 and September 1999.

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