Vermont to replace longtime anti-smoking agency

BURLINGTON, VT: The Vermont Department of Health has decided to cut ties with the longtime incumbent of its statewide smoking cessation program.

BURLINGTON, VT: The Vermont Department of Health has decided to cut ties with the longtime incumbent of its statewide smoking cessation program.

Kelliher Samets Volk of Burlington will no longer handle the account it has managed since 2001, said Robert Stirewalt, public information officer at the health department. Instead, the state has hired Rescue Social Change Group of San Diego.

Stirewalt declined to comment on why the state made the change until the contract is finalized in June. In January, he said Kelliher Samets Volk's work was effective as both youth and adult smoking rates declined significantly over the past decade.

“It's not often you get to work with clients that are focused on doing good things for people,” said Yoram Samets, managing director at Kelliher Samets Volk. “We did effective and award-winning work and there is not much else you can ask for.” 

The state health department wants to cut tobacco-use rates by up to 12% by 2020. To reach this goal, the agency wanted a firm that will launch several campaigns, according to the RFP. The two-year contract begins in July and has a renewal option for two additional years. The budget for fiscal year 2012 is $788,515.

Rescue Social Change will launch campaigns targeting adult smokers, with a special focus on consumers of lower socio-economic status and other disparate populations. It will also focus on youth, with a special focus on at-risk youth and new and emerging tobacco products.

Rescue Social Change did not immediately return a request for comment.

Vermont's decision comes nearly a month after the Arkansas Department of Health renewed its contract with the longtime incumbent of its anti-tobacco program, Cranford Johnson Robinson Woods.

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