With money provided by cigarette makers, Florida began a biting, in-your-face advertising campaign designed by teenagers to prevent their peers from smoking.
"We're your best customers," one ad reads. "So why are you trying to kill us?"As part of the state's $11.3 billion settlement with tobacco companies, cigarette makers have given $50 million for a campaign aimed at reducing teenage smoking. A recent government survey found that 43 percent of high school students said they used tobacco products.
"It's teens talking to teens - we're not telling them what to do. We're just letting them know what the tobacco companies are doing to them," said 17-year-old Tori Binitie, a junior at Lincoln High School in Tallahassee who appears in the campaign.
Adolescents helped develop the full-page newspaper ads and television spots. In one ad, a teen in a black ski mask - simulating a hostage-taker - says she represents a generation "tired of being a target."
Among the teen demands are a list of ingredients on every pack of cigarettes and warnings in movies that feature characters who smoke.
"Their brand is lies. Our brand is truth," states the tag line on each of the new advertisements.
Tobacco companies are paying a total of $200 million for anti-smoking education campaigns in Florida. Industry spokesman Scott Williams said the new effort is consistent with cigarette makers' own goals to reduce teen smoking.