FLA. TOBACCO DEAL TRIGGERS OUTDOOR CUTS AND ANTI ADS: $11.3 BIL PROPOSAL HAS LESS SEVERE OUTDOOR LIMITS THAN NAT'L PACT

By Published on .

Florida's $11.3 billion pact to settle its lawsuit against the tobacco companies will trigger major new anti-smoking ad campaigns and also the biggest cutback in cigarette advertising since commercials came off TV in 1971.

The exact size of the advertising portion of the two-year anti-smoking campaigns in Florida-and extended to Mississippi-was uncertain at press time. But the tobacco marketers agreed to fund the "pilot" two-year effort in Florida with $200 million, a figure that includes enforcement and education as well as ads.

Spokesmen for Florida Gov. Lawton Chiles and the new state Department of Health said major amounts of the $100 million annual expenditure will go toward ads but offered few details.

Florida's plan for the pilot program must be approved by Palm Beach County Judge Harold Cohen.

COMPANIES NOT TARGETED IN ADS

The only conditions the industry sought and received in the deal was that the money be used to reduce underage smoking and that tobacco not be portrayed as "bad guys" in ads, a la the "Mr. Butts" Massachusetts anti-smoking ads or the "conspirators" portrayal in ads in California.

Advertising "shall not be directed against the tobacco companies or any particular company or companies or any particular brand of tobacco products," said the agreement that settled Florida's lawsuit.

The health department, formed in January, currently has no ad agency; plans to hire one have not been formulated.

The Florida deal applies to Mississippi because the latter state's settlement stipulated that any new benefits won by other states would be extended to Mississippi.

Based upon population, Mississippi will receive $50 million during the two years, said a spokesman for Attorney General Michael Moore, adding that most of that likely would go to advertising.

While Florida and Mississippi residents will see more anti-smoking ads, outdoor boards for cigarettes will disappear quickly. Tobacco companies are to furnish a list of boards to state officials within 30 days, take down some within the next month and have all boards down four months later.

Also to be removed are all transit advertising and ads at sports arenas.

While significant, the ad restrictions are less severe than those that would take effect nationally if the national agreement negotiated by a group of state attorneys general-and due to be considered by Congress in hearings this week-takes effect.

NO MAGAZINE RESTRICTIONS

Under the Florida agreement, signage outside stores and sponsorship notices at entertainment or sporting events would be allowed. Also, the deal does not carry the restrictions on magazine advertising, giveaways, promotions or other forms of marketing contained in the national settlement.

Spokesmen for the outdoor ad industry said less than 9% of outdoor ad dollars in the two states come from tobacco marketers.

RIGHT TO DECIDE

"As long as it is voluntary, individual companies have every right to decide where they place their advertising," said Kippy Burns, VP-communications at Outdoor Advertising Association of America.

Congressional observers, however, wondered whether the new state pact would heighten congressional determination to act or actually work to lessen the pressure.

But Mark Buse, policy director of the Senate Commerce Committee, said it would not work against the national agreement.

"Congressmen view it as their job to decide this," said Mr. Buse. "They will be loathe to cede this to a bunch of attorneys general."

In this article:
Most Popular