MDH selects GKV for five-year contract

The Maryland Department of Health (MDH) has selected GKV to develop and implement a multiyear smoking prevention and cessation campaign for its Center for Tobacco Prevention and Control (CTPC).

The four-year contract with fifth-year option begins this month and will focus on public health campaigns to raise awareness among and educate numerous audiences, help reduce health disparities and increase health equity around key tobacco control and prevention issues.

“We’re up for the challenge of developing a comprehensive approach that’s relevant for today for preventing tobacco use and educating Marylanders about the health risks,” said GKV President and COO Kevin Kempske. “MDH’s Center for Tobacco Prevention and Control has made great progress over the years in decreasing tobacco use in the state, but unique challenges remain among certain segments of the population. We will focus much of our efforts on those areas.”

GKV was selected based on its expertise and long history of developing public health campaigns designed to change behaviors. In the early 2000s, GKV partnered with MDH (then the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene) to develop the state’s first comprehensive statewide tobacco control campaign — Smoking Stops Here — and to launch the 1-800-QUIT-NOW cessation line.

More recently, GKV spearheaded the state’s COVID-19 public awareness efforts in partnership with the Maryland Department of Health (MDH), worked with the Maryland Managed Care Organization Association (MMCOA) to create a campaign encouraging Medicaid re-enrollment and is currently leading outreach efforts for the Maryland Cannabis Administration following legalization of adult recreational use in July 2023.

The goals of CTPC’s smoking campaign will be to educate the public, decision-makers and other stakeholders about the ongoing risks associated with tobacco use, including electronic smoking devices and flavored tobacco products, and increase awareness about the harmful effects of secondhand smoke. The campaign will strive to discourage youth from beginning use of all tobacco products and promote the availability of cessation support services for current tobacco users. GKV will work closely with the CTPC to create television, radio, digital and outdoor advertising, website content, social media outreach, point-of-sale materials for retailers and print materials.

Currently, about 10 percent of Maryland’s adult population smoke tobacco products and about 4 percent use e-cigarettes; about 5 percent of state high school students reported smoking tobacco, almost 15 percent used e-cigarettes and almost 5 percent used chewing tobacco, snuff or dip in the past 30 days. Tobacco use has been connected to increased risk for numerous chronic conditions and diseases, including COPD, emphysema and cancer.

Tobacco use remains the number one cause of preventable death and disease in the United States. In Maryland, 7,500 adults die annually due to tobacco-related causes. (Data from Truth Initiative 2022 and the CTCP.)

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