"Truth" Campaign Goes Grassroots

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"Truth" Campaign Goes Grassroots

The New York-based Truth organization is hitting the streets across the nation to target America's youth in a smoking prevention campaign that features dance-offs, DJs, fashion shows and jump-rope contests, according to a report by The Courier Journal.

The organization is currently in Louisville, Ky., where it is touring with the street basketball brand AND1's Mix Tape Tour. Kentucky has one of the highest percentages of high school smokers at 26.2 percent, the newspaper reported. The national average is 23 percent, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 2005 study.

"We give kids information about smoking so they can make their own decision. We try really hard not to be preachy," Emily Griggs, a member of the tour, told The Courier Journal.

Started in February 2000, the Truth campaign is the only national anti-smoking campaign not operated by the tobacco industry. Truth's ads are known for being against the grain. "They don't do the typical: 'Hey, cigarettes will kill you' routine. Instead, they'll have some really good-looking guy or girl come on and say: 'I would never want to kiss someone who smokes.' And that makes a kid go, 'Hmmm. …'" said Mensia Marshall, spokesperson for the American Lung Association's Kentucky office.

However, some do not agree with Truth's tactics. Audrey Silk, spokesperson for the Citizens Lobbying Against Smoker Harassment, said, "I think the ads are patronizing, they're done poorly. They won't allow any second parties to come along and provide alternate information. They tell the kids that tobacco companies are controlling them -- they have demonized a legitimate, legal company."

The ads might not be "preachy," but the Delaware Supreme Court has ruled the ads also do not vilify or attack tobacco companies or employees, Consumer Affairs reported. Last week, that ruling was made on the appeal by Lorillard Tobacco Co. against the anti-smoking organization.

In the ruling, the Delaware Supreme Court noted that although the ads do refer specifically to Lorillard Tobacco, "the campaign's advertisements do not satisfy the plain meaning of 'vilification' or 'personal attacks,'" the report stated.