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Our View: Just getting started

"Hey Camel, thanks for buying us this really big ad. "See ya in church. Target Market." --Billboard on Arrowhead Road n case you were wondering where that billboard came from and what it means, Target Market is the statewide anti-smoking educatio...

"Hey Camel, thanks for buying us this really big ad.
"See ya in church. Target Market."
--Billboard on Arrowhead Road
n case you were wondering where that billboard came from and what it means, Target Market is the statewide anti-smoking educational program of the Minnesota Department of Health. It was created out of part of the $6.1 billion settlement with Big Tobacco. It is also the source of a couple of anti-smoking TV ads that have shown locally featuring several Duluth teens among others.
The state set aside $490 million of the $6.1 billion to establish an endowment fund to spend on anti-smoking education efforts. This introductory campaign was designed by Twin Cities ad agency Campbell-Mithun-Esty.
Our greatest fear over the settlement with Big Tobacco has been that the state would squander the money. Located in a 40 mph zone, a billboard that doesn't mention "tobacco" or "smoking" is obscure enough to go over the heads of all but the most politically attuned.
The best way to spend the billions is to put all of it in an endowment to expand medical education, thus helping to bring market forces to bear on the skyrocketing costs of health care.
However, we are glad that the anti-smoking education funds are in an endowment already so that the funds will last for future generations, and that the state is doing a survey before and after the ad campaign to determine its effectiveness.
As it is, cigarette sales have declined since the tobacco companies had to raise their prices to pay for various settlements across the nation.
Instead of thanking Camel, it makes more sense to thank those smokers who are actually paying the bill -- and to congratulate those who have quit the habit.
This ad campaign is only the first foray in what promises to be a long battle of attrition over not only your right to smoke, but your wisdom in doing so.

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