The Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids

An RWJF National Program

Dates of Program: January 1996 to September 2007

Field of Work: Reducing the use of tobacco among youth.

Problem Synopsis: Tobacco contributes to a host of health problems, including lung and other cancers, heart disease, chronic lung disease and stroke. Its health effects reach beyond smokers themselves. According to a publication of the American Lung Association, each year nearly 50,000 Americans who do not smoke die from lung cancer and heart disease because of exposure to secondhand, or environmental, tobacco smoke.

In addition to the toll tobacco takes on the nation's health, smoking costs America nearly $195 billion annually in both medical expenditures and lost productivity due to illness. Research studies from the CDC have found that young people are three times as sensitive to tobacco advertising as are adults and are more likely to be influenced to smoke by cigarette marketing than by peer pressure.

Synopsis of the Work: The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation established the National Center for Tobacco-Free Kids in 1995 (renaming it the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids [CTFK] in 1996). CTFK promotes policy and environmental changes that will prevent and reduce tobacco use and exposure to secondhand smoke, especially among children, as well as changes that will minimize the harm caused by tobacco. Other funders include the American Cancer Society, the American Heart Association and the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

Key Results

  • From 1996 to 2006, CTFK:

    • Advocated for regulation of tobacco products by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in collaboration with the American Cancer Society, the American Heart Association, the American Lung Association and others.
    • Launched Faith United Against Tobacco in 2002 to mobilize faith communities of all denominations to support proven solutions to reduce smoking.
    • Provided technical assistance to state and local coalitions working on three main tobacco-control goals: strong clean indoor air laws, tobacco tax increases and increased state funding of tobacco prevention and cessation programs.
    • Became a national voice and brand for youth tobacco control.
    • Conducted communications activities to increase the awareness among media, policy-makers and national thought leaders of tobacco control as a pressing public health issue. According to CTFK's president Matt Myers, aggressive work by the campaign's communications arm to focus on tobacco as a public health issue has changed the way the media cover the subject.