In 2017, Deschutes, Crook, and Jefferson Counties worked together to secure funding to saturate Central Oregon with messaging from the Smokefree Oregon media campaign. The campaign educates community members on tobacco industry tactics that target youth through marketing and flavored tobacco products. Tobacco industries use these tactics to hook the next generation of users. The tobacco industry knows that the earlier someone starts using tobacco products the harder it is to quit, with nearly 90% of people who smoke claiming they started before age 18. So, it’s no surprise the tobacco industry uses colorful displays and eye level product placement near toys and candy to garner the interest of young people. The tobacco industry also markets over 4,000 varieties of flavors for e-cigarettes, and a variety of cheaply priced and fruit flavored cigarillos. These fruity options are designed to disguise the harshness of regular tobacco and potentially attract new users.
The primary goal of the Smokefree Oregon media campaign is to increase awareness and community readiness to enact tobacco prevention policy strategies such as tobacco retail licensing. Here in Deschutes County, retailers do not need to obtain a license to sell tobacco products, which results in varying levels of compliance with local, state, and federal laws. Tobacco retail licensure would facilitate a system for compliance checks, education, and training for retailers, thereby increasing accountability with tobacco laws.
The Smokefree Oregon media campaign began in August 2018 and will continue through early November. The campaign is distributed through print, television, radio, and digital media. Funding to increase the saturation of this campaign in Central Oregon was made possible by directing health care cost savings from the local coordinated care organization to this awareness campaign. We feel hopeful the campaign will reach various audiences as it has already made over one million digital impressions through its first month.
Contact Karen Ard, Deschutes County Tobacco Prevention and Education Coordinator, with any questions related to Smokefree Oregon; Karen.Ard@deschutes.org.