By Gene Williams
February 12 -- “Smoking Doesn’t Belong Here.” That’s the tagline of the City’s latest public awareness campaign aimed at making smokers think twice before they light up.
Restrictions on smoking in Santa Monica have been getting tougher in recent years. But just passing ordinances isn’t enough, City officials said.
To let people know where they can and can’t smoke, the City Council Tuesday gave the go ahead to final design concepts from Southard Communications, a public relations firm in charge of the new program.
The no-smoking message should start appearing around town next month.
“It’s meant to raise awareness of the no-smoking laws for tourists, residents and businesses by focusing on voluntary compliance rather than negative repercussions,” said Kate Vernez, assistant to the City Manager.
The $150,000 program will include new signage at the Promenade, the Pier, City parks and other public places where smoking is off limits. The “place specific” signs will vary depending on location. .
In each of the signs, a picture of a cigarette will be appear alongside two other, more healthy choices – such as a plate of pasta in signs at outdoor dining areas. The viewer is asked to decide which of the three items doesn’t fit. In each case, it’s the cigarette.
“It’s built on the child’s game of ‘one of these doesn’t belong here’” Vernez explained. “It gets you to make a decision and a choice.”
The campaign will roll out in mid March when businesses will receive “toolkits” including signs, window clings, “friendly reminder” tips, business card “reminders” and sources for information, City officials said.
Outreach teams will be on the street in late spring to let people know about the City’s no-smoking polices.
The program will also include a Santa Monica schools art contest, advertisements in local media, promotional giveaways and a website.
While the designers are still putting finishing touches on their work, Tuesday’s council action marked the end of a year-long process.
The council began moving on the project near the close of 2007, when it allocated money toward the campaign.
In May 2008, the council awarded the contract to Southard, which submitted preliminary designs to the City late last year. The council’s approval of final designs Tuesday means the campaign is now set to go.
“We want to get on the street with business toolkits by March 13,” Vernez said. “We’re very excited about that.”