Anti-Smoking Ads on NYC Cabs Lead Fight to Ban Tobacco Ads on Taxis

In 1997, SmokeFree Educational Services, Inc., New York, carried out a project to purchase a smokefree advertising campaign on the roofs of New York City taxi cabs.

SmokeFree Educational Services, Inc., was founded 10 years ago by Joseph W. Cherner after a brief, lucrative career on Wall Street.

Past experience has shown that Phillip Morris does not like to run its ads when SmokeFree Educational Services runs theirs. Thus, it was expected that tobacco advertising in New York City would be severely reduced during the grant period.

Key Results

  • The two taxi ads, Virginia Slime and Cancer Country, received considerable media attention. They were mentioned on TV programs (Fox News, CBS This Morning, Good Day New York), in print media (New York Magazine, New York Post, Adbusters, and Business Week), and on radio shows.

    The ads were shown in the background of the TV show, "Law and Order," and permission was granted for them to be used in an upcoming movie. Medallion Taxi Media twice removed the ads from taxis, but when the grantee demanded remuneration, the ads were re-posted.
  • The ads also helped encourage the New York City Council to introduce legislation banning tobacco advertising within 1,000 feet of a school or center of youth activity. Since New York City is geographically dense, such a law would ban virtually all tobacco billboards.