Surrounded by high school students committed to fighting tobacco use, Gov. Dirk Kempthorne launched a media campaign Nov. 28 aimed at reducing smoking in Idaho.

“According to the most recent health data available, roughly one out of five deaths in Idaho can be traced to a tobacco-related illness,” Kempthorne said. “These ads are the first part of a campaign aimed at keeping Idahoans—especially our children—from starting to use tobacco in the first place, and to get those who are using it to stop.”

Four ads started running in November and will continue through June 2001. They will be aired in Lewiston and Spokane, Boise, Idaho Falls, and Twin Falls, said Sara Chase, vice president at the ES Drake advertising firm in charge of the campaign, said.

Half of them—with a “don’t start” message—will be targeted at teen-agers, on youth-oriented channels such as MTV and Nickelodeon. The other 500—featuring “quit smoking” messages—will be aimed at adults.

The ads cost $42,700, Chase said, adding that for every paid spot, television stations are running one for free. The money comes from a $2.3 million fund—interest from the state’s 1998 tobacco settlement—earmarked by the Legislature to combat tobacco use.

One of the eight Meridian High School students who flanked Kempthorne’s announcement said smoking is a problem at her school.

“About a third of the kids smoke,” said Jenny Hassakis, a 17-year-old senior in an anti-smoking group called Taking Action. “They don’t know what the effects will be. It could take 20 years to realize.”