October 21, 2009 - The Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) announced last week that the US Smokeless Tobacco Company (USSTC), which recently merged with Altria Group, will not renew their national sponsorship agreement with the PRCA after 2009.
"We applaud the PRCA for ending tobacco sponsorship of its rodeos," said Andrea Craig Dodge, director of the Buck Tobacco Sponsorship Project. "Tobacco marketing including sampling booths, scoreboards, banners, and ads give young rodeo audience members the message that using tobacco is part of being an adult cowboy or rodeo fan."
For several years, a number of tobacco control advocates and community members have called for an end to tobacco sponsorship of rodeos. "Rodeo has been around since the 1800's - long before tobacco sponsorship of rodeos began in 1986," said "Cowboy Ted" Hallisey, director of Cowboy Ted's Foundation for Kids. "Without big tobacco, rodeos will move into mainstream sports because they will be more comfortable for children and families to attend," he said.
"Rodeo has been growing in popularity," said Dodge. "Now that the PRCA is ending its relationship with big tobacco, the sport will thrive even more."
Nationwide, 14 percent of boys age 12 to 17 use smokeless tobacco, and the rates are higher in rural states, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The Buck Tobacco Sponsorship Project, a program of the Public Health Institute, works to end tobacco sponsorship of rodeos and other family-oriented outdoor events. For more information, visit http://www.bucktobacco.org. To contact Buck Tobacco Sponsorship Project's Andrea Craig Dodge, call 510-302-3324 (office) or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Reference: Grassroots Activists Congratulate Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association for Ending Tobacco Sponsorship, AScribe - The Public Interest Newswire, 10/19/2009.