Santa Monica targets smokers

SANTA MONICA, CA: The City of Santa Monica awarded a $150,000 contract recently to Southard Communications to create an integrated PR campaign that will raise public awareness about the city's smoking restrictions.

SANTA MONICA, CA: The City of Santa Monica awarded a $150,000 contract recently to Southard Communications to create an integrated PR campaign that will raise public awareness about the city's smoking restrictions.

The effort is expected to kick off in mid-August, said Roxana Janka, VP of New York-based Southard, which has a Santa Monica office. It will educate residents and visitors about the no-smoking ordinances, which include not smoking within 20 feet of the window or door of a business. Smoking is also forbidden at parks, beaches, the pier, and promenade. Fines for first-time offenses start at $100.

"The council decided that a full-fledged PR and public education campaign was needed to get the word out about smoking regulations," said Don Patterson, assistant to the Santa Monica city manager.

Seven agencies pitched the account, including finalists Pathways Communications and Healthier Solutions, after the RFP was issued in February, Patterson said. Although it is not the first no-smoking public awareness campaign that the city has conducted, it is the largest contract, and the first time it used a PR agency for it, he said. The city's smoking ban was finalized in November 2006; California already bans smoking in the workplace, bars, and restaurants, statewide.

Southard will develop the brand, slogan, signage, and viral components of the campaign. The agency is also working with a local high school to generate campaign ideas, such as a YouTube video or messages about the restrictions printed on bank receipts.

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