Ad shows students smoking on school bus

Thomas McMahon
Posted on February 19, 2013

In an effort to curb tobacco use among youths, ClearWay Minnesota has launched a commercial that depicts school bus passengers lighting up.
In an effort to curb tobacco use among youths, ClearWay Minnesota has launched a commercial that depicts school bus passengers lighting up.
An ad that aims to curb youth smoking is under fire for its provocative approach: showing students lighting up cigarettes on school buses.

The commercial, from anti-tobacco organization ClearWay Minnesota, started airing in the state in January.

The Minnesota School Bus Operators Association (MSBOA) took issue with the ad and has been working to get it off the air.

“While the MSBOA appreciates the efforts to reduce youth smoking, we believe the use of the school bus is wholly inappropriate,” the association wrote on Facebook. “Viewers who see this commercial may believe that children are permitted to smoke on the school bus or be exposed to secondhand smoke, something that is patently false.”

MSBOA’s attorney sent a letter to ClearWay Minnesota asking it to cease circulation of the commercial.

In late January, ClearWay modified its media buy to have the ad air only after 8 p.m., noting that its intended audience is adults.

In response to criticism on Facebook, ClearWay wrote that “the spot does not attempt to depict a real school bus experience; school buses were used because of their instant associations with children and because of their ability to suggest the large numbers of youth who use tobacco products.”

Shelly Jonas, executive administrator of MSBOA, told SBF last week that the ad is still running at night. She said that a few legislators have joined their efforts to stop it.

ClearWay's use of the yellow bus isn't limited to the commercial. Another element of the organization's campaign is a diagram that has school bus icons representing the number of middle school and high school tobacco users in Minnesota. Each of the 77 buses in the chart represents 1,000 tobacco-using students — 77,000 total.

MSBOA wrote on Facebook that ClearWay’s ad campaign “defames the hard-working businesses and personnel working in the school transportation industry who strive to provide schoolchildren with the safest transportation possible.”

The commercial can be viewed here.

Related Topics: Minnesota, public image

Thomas McMahon Executive Editor
Comments ( 2 )
  • Concerned Parent

     | about 5 years ago

    I am shocked that the grown ups involved here, apparently an organization as well as an individual commentator who are in "school transportation" are not smart or educated enough to see the big picture here. The commentator thinks some kids made a commercial for ClearWay and got it on television. That's not a very smart thing for you to think, let alone type out for posting on the internet. The school bus drivers' association may have a large number of either smokers or "right to smoke" types who actually don't care about the point of of the ad, which is to RAISE AWARENESS OF YOUTH SMOKING AND CURB IT. And now, *legislators* are "working to get the ad off the air?" A large number of fools have involved themselves, knowingly or inadvertently representing the tobacco industry, in a non-situation created by this ad that many, many people have stated really jolted them out of their apathy regarding youth smoking and lead to conversations with their kids. Only a complete moron would think that the ads "suggested kids smoke on the bus" or that they "represent a lack of control in (the school bus driving) industry." These aren't real buses folks, and these kids aren't really smoking. Grow a brain.

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