Former smoker wins state’s contest to create new anti-tobacco TV spots

Jeff Rubin, a Los Angeles-based graphics designer and animation expert who gave up smoking more than four years ago, has won a state-sponsored contest to create the state’s next generation anti-tobacco commercials.

The contest, called “Be a Reel Hero – Create. Direct. Save Lives,” sought to develop TV commercials to discourage smoking. The program is financed largely by voter-approved initiatives that raised on taxes on tobacco products in order to finance research and education.

Rubin’s entry, “Other Ways to Use a Cigarette,” was selected as the grand prize winner. Rubin’s offering aired this week on “American Idol” in the Los Angeles and Sacramento areas. His winning entry was announced by Dr.  Mark Horton, the director of the state Department of Public Health.

“With this contest, we invited Californians to add their talents to the state’s long history of effective anti-tobacco television ads that helped reduce smoking in our state by more than 30 percent,” Horton said.

Rubin works in post-production and graphic design. He based “Other Ways to Use a Cigarette” on the notion that smoking a cigarette is like putting another nail in your coffin. Rubin’s inventive use of motion graphics highlights the toxic chemicals found in cigarettes and their potential “other” uses, such as paving roads with tar, exterminating rats with arsenic and cleaning toilets with ammonia. The commercial underscores the fact that these same toxic chemicals are being inhaled by smokers with each cigarette they smoke.

Rubin said his own experience in giving up smoking played a role in creating his entry. “I had smoked on and off since 1986. I quit for three months one time, another time I quit for a year, but I still went back,” he said. “I felt inspired.”

Rubin said he made the 30-second spot in about “three or four days right before the deadline. It took about 60 hours. Sometimes you do your best work on deadline.”

There were 45 entries in the contest. After Rubin, the other top entrants were:
• 2nd place – “You Do the Math” by Nicolas Duchemin Harvard and Matthew Rappaport
• 3rd place – “Left Behind” by Leyna J. Weber and Darren Capozzi
• 4th place – “Lonely Cowboy” by Matthew Breault
• 5th place – “Gunfighters” by Scott Betty

The contest was designed to “engage the creative talent and innovation of Californians to help educate the public about the dangerous health effects of smoking,” Horton said.

Californians cast more than 10,000 votes online for their favorite entries, according to the Public Health Department.
The contest was judged by a panel of four judges: Kimberly Belshé, Secretary of the California Health and Human Services Agency; Sherry Lansing, CEO of the Sherry Lansing Foundation and former head of Paramount Pictures; Colleen Stevens, head of CDPH Tobacco Control Program media initiatives; and Court Crandall, creative director for Ground Zero Advertising.

State officials say the California Department of Public Health’s Tobacco Control Program is the nation’s longest running and most comprehensive anti-tobacco program. California also has the lowest cigarette consumption per capita in the U.S. and serves as a model for other states and countries. California’s public health policies are major contributing factors to the state’s low smoking rates.

The winning Be A Reel Hero entries, along with other finalists, can be viewed at
For information about how to quit smoking, visit

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