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503-378-6002 or Michael.C.Kron@doj.state.or.us
About Ellen F. Rosenblum
As a result of the November 1998 master Settlement Agreement (MSA) between state Attorneys General and the major tobacco companies, the industry is required to remove all tobacco related billboards advertising its products by April 22, 1999.
"This is an important step towards reducing smoking and other tobacco use in Oregon," Attorney General Hardy Myers said. "Not only will tobacco advertising's influence on our young people be significantly altered, but future generations of Oregonians may possibly never see a tobacco billboard - ever."
Prior to the agreement, the tobacco industry was the third largest user of billboard, accounting for nine percent of billboard business. Nationally, the industry spent $200 million last year alone on billboards, just a fraction of the more than $5 billion it spends each year to advertise and promote tobacco products.
"Snuffing out tobacco billboards is another step in efforts to better the health of Oregonians," said Elinor Hall, Oregon Health Division Administrator. "The great news is that the space the old billboards took up will now be replaced with the tobacco prevention messages."
Some of the tobacco industry's billboard contracts extend beyond April 22. The state gets to use these locations for free for the extent of the contracts. According to Hall, that translates into more than $125,000 of free billboard space for the next nine months.
"Changes in industry behavior brought about by the Master Settlement Agreement, coupled with the Tobacco Prevention and Education Program run by the Health Division are effective tools in reducing the role of tobacco in Oregon," Myers said.
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