A state senator says the latest anti-smoking campaign to hit the state makes people in his hometown look "like a bunch of butt heads."
Senator Steve Kettering, a Republican from Lake View, says the "Just Eliminate Lies" campaign has placed two billboard ads along highways leading into Lake View.
"It displays the city’s logo — Lake View. It says tobacco can kill this town in one day. The town’s dead," Kettering says. "I mean, that’s what it looks like."
Kettering says Lake View markets itself as a tourist destination in northwest Iowa and this sign sends the wrong signal to potential visitors. "The intent is tobacco, but it’s like it’s dead — frankly that the city of Lake View is like a bunch of butt heads," Kettering says.
The "Just Eliminate Lies" or JEL campaign is state-sponsored and led by a council of high school students. The group’s latest campaign has targeted Iowa towns of modest size, like Lake View with its population of roughly 1300 as that’s about the number of Americans who die every day of tobacco-related illnesses.
Kettering says he and other Lake View residents are "pretty sensitive" to maintaining their town’s good image and the anti-smoking billboards aren’t helping. "It provides a very negative image," Kettering says, "and frankly in this day and age…how you’re perceived is how you are."
Kettering says keeping kids from smoking is a laudable goal, but he considers this advertising to be "irresponsible."
The Department of Public Health launched this anti-smoking campaign in September, focusing first on the eastern Iowa town of Springville. That town’s residents were a bit frightened and confused by posters placed around town that carried the phrase "We’ll miss you Springville."
Several videos have been produced to spread the group’s anti-smoking message. Find some of them at www.whattownisnext.com or www.youtube.com/watch?v=UwgR3hG-8vs .