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Vermont Department of Health - Asthma Program

Vermont Department of Health - Tobacco Control (Heart)

Vermont Department of Health - Tobacco Control

Tobacco Control Program

Tobacco Control Program

# of anti-tobacco media campaign Gross Rating Points (GRP)

Current Value


Q1 2024


Line Bar

Story Behind the Curve

Last Updated: September 2023

Author: Tobacco Control Program, Vermont Department of Health

Gross Rating Points only reflect quarters in which mass media occurs. The zeros on the chart coincide with months that no media ran. Additional Tobacco Control Program funding would extend anti-tobacco media campaign time in market.  

Gross Rating Points (GRPs) – the standard measurement unit for mass media reach – is not a comprehensive look at reach and number of impressions. GRPs are based on written diaries relating to TV and Radio, making it more of a sample. The diaries do not capture the continual migration to digital promotion from mass media. While GRPs tell part of the story for reaching our target audiences, the Tobacco Control Program uses a suite of measures and analytics to improve our performance.

Evidence points to the efficacy of mass reach media in tobacco control and prevention. The more times you reach an audience with your message the more effective you are in achieving behavior change. The CDC has exemplified this with its national Tips from Former Smokers Campaign which resulted in an additional 1.83 million quit attempts (in 2014) and an estimated 104,000 successful quits. 

Top three contributing factors in increasing effective media exposure:

1. Media dollars - The more money allocated to paid media, the more likely the target audience is to be reached.

2. Media to be used - We work with experienced contractors to produce media or use evaluated media produced by CDC or other states. Importantly the media used needs to effectively communicate a message and a call-to-action such as steering viewers to 1-800-QUIT-NOW or

3. Market is researched - By hosting focus groups, participating in national research and collaborating with knowledgeable vendors, we better understand the needs, wants and motivations of our target audiences.  

Why Is This Important?

Together these performance measures focus on whether Vermonters are better off as a result of the Health Department's Tobacco Control Program. They do so by looking at the quality and efficiency of these programs and services. This performance measure is important because it measures HOW WELL the program is doing; it measures quality of program effort.


From approving designs to implementing adult cessation media campaigns, the following partners play a role:

  • Vermont Department of Health Leadership – Reviews all mass media plans and provides feedback
  • Rinck Advertising - The Tobacco Program's contractor provides behavior change media interventions to prevent youth use and increase adult cessation and manages communication tools for youth and adults, including the CounterBalance campaign. 
  • Tobacco Community Coalitions – Supports the mass media in local communities through personal interactions, social media, earned media opportunities, etc
  • District Offices – Supports the mass media in local communities through personal interactions, social media, earned media opportunities, etc
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – Provides best or promising practices in mass media anti-tobacco marketing and communications, including the Tips from Former Smokers ads and evalaution results.

What Works

The Department of Health is successfully supplementing the national CDC buy with a strategic buy of our own, pairing hard-hitting or emotional Tips from Former Smokers ads, which convey the serious long-term health effects from smoking and secondhand smoke exposure, with supportive how-to-quit ads specific to Vermont's services and resources.

One low-cost/no-cost idea is:

"Added Value Placements"

Our media buyers purchase for many state contracts and agencies. By using this leverage along with strong negotiation skills, we can augment our buys with free bonus spots that are placed in the appropriate times and locations. We can gain 20% additional reach with these added value placements.

Top recommended strategies to improve this indicator:

GRPs do not completely reflect the reach and frequency of our media to the target audience. This is due to the methodology of capturing (written diaries) and the fact that digital media impressions are not measured.

Having the resources to measure digital media impressions and their impact has improved assessing our reach, but it would be helpful to have more established evaluation methods for assessing impact on cessation activity.

Action Plan

Eventually, media buyers will arrive at a formula that captures all the channels of a campaign, including social media engagement. Until that happens, we can only approximate the full reach of our advertising.

  • The Tobacco Program will continue to implement a combination of the CDC's Tips from Former Smokers, tested and evaluated promotions from other states to reach those that smoke in Vermont.
  • The Tobacco Control Program will continue to purchase media at the reach and frequency stated in the CDC's 2014 Best Practice Guide as feasible. The program has seen that when we add digital buys to our media flights, it extends the campaign and interest (as measured by calls to the Quitline or hits on the website).

Notes on Methodology

Some quarters run less mass media than usual due to the costs for spots, especially during elections and holidays. Traditionally, we don't purchase media during the Thanksgiving/Christmas holidays. It is not a time of year when those who smoker are most likely to consider a quit compared to other times during the year.

Clear Impact Suite is an easy-to-use, web-based software platform that helps your staff collaborate with external stakeholders and community partners by utilizing the combination of data collection, performance reporting, and program planning.

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