Florida anti-smoking ad to run during Super Bowl


Published: Friday, February 1, 2008 at 4:15 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, February 1, 2008 at 4:15 p.m.

Florida's new effort to fight smoking through advertising starts Sunday with one of the most coveted ad spots, the Super Bowl.

The 30-second ad hits the viewer in the emotions: showing a kid out in the backyard throwing a ball but with nobody there to catch it and throw it back.

"Each year, smoking leaves 31,000 children fatherless," the ad says as the sullen kid has to go pick up the ball.

The ad cost about $500,000 and will air in all Florida markets during the Super Bowl.

Nationally, more than 400,000 people a year die from smoking-related diseases.

Florida's anti-smoking campaign is paid for with money from the state's lawsuit settlement with tobacco companies. The companies agreed in 1997 to pay the state billions of dollars over 25 years as reimbursement for tax money spent on treating sick smokers.

The ad campaign used to be well known and widely praised for its creativity and no-punches-pulled message about smoking's dangers. The previous campaign was driven in part by the participation of students, who helped create the message.

But the Legislature for several years cut spending on the state's anti-tobacco program and the ads disappeared.

But in 2006, Florida voters changed the constitution to require that the state spend a certain amount on an anti-smoking program that includes marketing. This year, the state has set aside $58 million to restore the program.

The $17 million contract to do the advertising component of the program was awarded earlier this month to Tallahassee-based The Zimmerman Agency, which is creating several television commercials.

Other memorable national anti-smoking ads have run in the past during the Super Bowl, including the "Shards o' Glass Freeze Pop" commercial. It featured an executive explaining that the company's product Popsicles with glass sticking out of them wasn't safe, and that only adults should use them.

Another that aired during the 2001 Super Bowl featured Rick Stoddard, icily telling viewers how his wife Marie died at 46 from lung cancer, and lamenting that it hadn't occurred to him years ago that 23 could be middle age.

Florida's new anti-smoking program also includes an education outreach element. Under that part of the program, the Florida Area Health Education Network received $10 million to create education programs for middle and high schools across Florida, and to train students in health care professions on tobacco-related health issues.

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