Truth Initiative

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Truth Initiative
Motto Inspiring tobacco-free lives
Formation 1999; 18 years ago (1999)
Type Nonprofit organization
Headquarters Washington, D.C., U.S.
  • United States
Robin Koval

Truth Initiative (formerly the American Legacy Foundation or Legacy)[1][2] is a nonprofit tobacco control organization "dedicated to achieving a culture where all youth and young adults reject tobacco."[3] It was established in March 1999 as a result of the Master Settlement Agreement between the attorneys general of 46 states, the District of Columbia and five United States territories, and the tobacco industry.[4] Truth Initiative is best known for its youth smoking prevention campaign.[5][6][7] Its other primary aims include conducting tobacco control research and policy studies, organizing community and youth engagement programs and developing digital cessation and prevention products, including through revenue-generating models.[8] The organization changed its name from the American Legacy Foundation to Truth Initiative on September 8, 2015, to better align with its Truth campaign.[9] As of 2016, the organization had more than $957 million in assets[10] and a staff of 133 based primarily in its Washington, D.C. office.


Truth Initiative was founded in 1999 as a result of the Master Settlement Agreement (MSA). The MSA was announced in 1998, resolving the lawsuits brought by 46 U.S. states, the District of Columbia and five territories against the major U.S. cigarette companies, to recover state Medicaid and other costs from caring for sick smokers. The four other states settled separately. The tobacco industry agreed to pay the states billions of dollars in perpetuity, making the MSA the then-largest civil litigation settlement in U.S. history. The states directed that a portion of the money they received from the settlement should be used to establish a national public health foundation dedicated to prevent youth smoking and helping smokers quit: the American Legacy Foundation, now Truth Initiative.[11]


Truth Campaign[edit]

Truth Initiative's signature program is its Truth campaign, a youth smoking prevention mass media public education program that has been widely credited with contributing to a significant drop in teen smoking.[12] In 2000, 23% of American 8th, 10th and 12th graders smoked. As of 2016, that figure was 6%.[13] The campaign exposes tobacco industry practices as well as the health effects and social consequences of smoking.[14]

Truth Initiative Schroeder Institute[edit]

Researchers in the Truth Initiative Schroeder Institute publish dozens of peer-reviewed research articles each year with the goal of identifying methods to minimize the harms of tobacco use, measure the effectiveness of interventions and identify best practices for tobacco control.[15] Research is also done to assess the Truth campaign's efforts, both pre-and post-market, including the use of the longitudinal Truth Longitudinal Cohort (TLC) survey of more than 10,000 young people and a continuous tracking study to assess campaign awareness and message receptivity.[16]

In the early 2000s the American Legacy Foundation (as the Truth Initiative was then known) gave around $10 million of the settlement funds it managed to the University of California San Francisco (USCF) to help it formalize and expand the collection of internal tobacco industry documents that its library already hosted; the collection was then named the Legacy Tobacco Documents Library.[17][18] As of May 2017, the library contained 14.7 million internal documents (nearly 89 million pages) created by major tobacco companies related to their advertising, manufacturing, marketing, sales and scientific research activities.[19]

Community and Youth Engagement[edit]

Truth Initiative provides individuals, coalitions and organizations information and methods to reduce tobacco use in their communities. The organization trains and educates young people interested in tobacco control and partners with community-serving organizations to reduce tobacco use. This includes a grant program for community colleges and historically black colleges and universities to create tobacco-free campuses.[20]

Examples of youth activism programs include:

  • National Summit on Youth Activism: A training program for high school students that provides activism strategies, media training and approaches to community engagement
  • Youth Activism Fellowship: A year-long training program for young adults that prepares participants to carry out a tobacco control project in his or her community

These community engagement programs are often an "on the ground" extension of the Truth campaign's work. Supporters of the campaign are called upon to support other anti-tobacco issues, such as a 2017 rally outside a Walgreen's shareholders meeting in New York that was organized to pressure the pharmacy's board of directors to stop selling tobacco in its stores.[21]

BecomeAnEx is a program that was created in 2008; it is a free, online community and set of resources for individuals who want to quit smoking.[22]

Board of Directors[edit]

Name Position Location
Doug Peterson[23] (Nebraska Attorney General) Lincoln, NE
Nancy Brown[24][25] (CEO, American Heart Association) Dallas, TX
Wesley Sapp[26] (Student, Florida State University) Youth Board Liaison Tallahassee, FL

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations
  2. ^ PR Week (US) (March 5, 2007): p06.
  3. ^ "Our Mission". Truth Initiative. Retrieved 2017-07-03. 
  4. ^ "Inside the hidden world of thefts, scams and phantom purchases at the nation's nonprofits". Washington Post. Retrieved 2017-07-03. 
  5. ^ Farrelly, Matthew C.; Nonnemaker, James; Davis, Kevin C.; Hussin, Altijani (2009-05-01). "The Influence of the National truth Campaign on Smoking Initiation". American Journal of Preventive Medicine. 36 (5): 379–384. doi:10.1016/j.amepre.2009.01.019. ISSN 0749-3797. 
  6. ^ Holtgrave, David R.; Wunderink, Katherine A.; Vallone, Donna M.; Healton, Cheryl G. (2009-05-01). "Cost–Utility Analysis of the National truth® Campaign to Prevent Youth Smoking". American Journal of Preventive Medicine. 36 (5): 385–388. doi:10.1016/j.amepre.2009.01.020. ISSN 0749-3797. 
  7. ^ Joe Stephens and Mary Pat Flaherty for the Washington Post. October 26, 2013 Inside the hidden world of thefts, scams and phantom purchases at the nation’s nonprofits
  8. ^ "Our Mission". Truth Initiative. Retrieved 2017-07-04. 
  9. ^ "How The Truth Campaign Plans To End Youth Smoking Once And For All". Fast Company. 2015-08-13. Retrieved 2017-07-06. 
  10. ^ "2016 Annual Report: How Truth Initiative is working toward a tobacco-free future" (PDF). Truth Initiative. Retrieved 4 July 2017. 
  11. ^ "Master Settlement Agreement" (PDF). National Association of Attorneys General. Retrieved 4 July 2017. 
  12. ^ "Monitoring the Future National Survey Results on Drug Use 1975-2016" (PDF). Monitoring the Future. Retrieved 4 July 2017. 
  13. ^ "Podcast: Using Tobacco Money to Stamp Out Youth Smoking". The Chronicle of Philanthropy. Retrieved 2017-07-04. 
  14. ^ "Advocacy Group Shows How Rebranding Can Rebuild Momentum". The Chronicle of Philanthropy. 2016-01-07. Retrieved 2017-07-04. 
  15. ^ "Our Mission". Truth Initiative. Retrieved 2017-07-05. 
  16. ^ "How The Truth Campaign Plans To End Youth Smoking Once And For All". Fast Company. 2015-08-13. Retrieved 2017-07-05. 
  17. ^ Hurt, RD; Ebbert, JO; Muggli, ME; Lockhart, NJ; Robertson, CR (May 2009). "Open doorway to truth: legacy of the Minnesota tobacco trial". Mayo Clinic Proceedings. 84 (5): 446–56. doi:10.1016/S0025-6196(11)60563-6. PMC 2676127Freely accessible. PMID 19411441. 
  18. ^ "Press release: American legacy foundation's $15 million gift creates permanent home for tobacco industry documents at UCSF". University of California - San Francisco. January 2001. Archived from the original on April 9, 2005. 
  19. ^ "Legacy Tobacco Documents Library". Retrieved 2017-07-07. 
  20. ^ "community and youth engagement". Truth Initiative. 2015-08-27. Retrieved 2017-07-07. 
  21. ^ "Group Calls on Walgreens to End Sales of Tobacco Products". TWC News. Retrieved 2017-07-07. 
  22. ^ "Do smoking cessation online communities actually help people quit? - On Health". On Health. 2016-12-15. Retrieved 2017-07-07. 
  23. ^ "NAAG | Representational Assignments". Retrieved 2017-08-31. 
  24. ^ "Nancy Brown | Big Data in Biomedicine Conference | Stanford Medicine". Retrieved 2017-08-31. 
  25. ^ "Public Health Summit - Speaker: Nancy Brown". Retrieved 2017-08-31. 
  26. ^ "Tobacco Free Partnership of Marion County - News & Events". Retrieved 2017-08-31. 

External links[edit]