Truth Initiative is fighting to end one of the toughest, largest and most critical public health battles of our time — and it’s working. We’ve helped bring down teen cigarette use from 23% in 2000 to less than 3% in 2021. Explore our history.
Master Settlement Agreement
The Master Settlement Agreement, the largest civil litigation settlement in American history, is established between the major tobacco companies and 46 U.S. states, plus the District of Columbia and five U.S. territories. The MSA changes the face of tobacco control in America and results in tobacco companies agreeing to pay billions of dollars to compensate states and territories for taxpayer money that had been spent in connection with tobacco-related diseases.Read more about the MSA
American Legacy Foundation
American Legacy Foundation (later renamed Truth Initiative) is founded as part of the Master Settlement Agreement. It is the first national public health organization dedicated to ending tobacco use among youth and young adults. The board of directors selects Cheryl G. Healton, DrPH, as the chief executive officer.
Our first truth campaign ads air nationwide, and the truth tour brings information to teens at music and sports venues across the country. Meanwhile, we launch our grant programs beginning with a state-level youth empowerment initiative.
Priority populations program
We launch our priority populations program designed to address the toll of tobacco in underserved populations in the U.S. This program provides funding for prevention and quitting projects among racial, ethnic and LGBT communities.
Legacy Tobacco Documents Library
With funding from our organization, The University of California, San Francisco unveils the Legacy Tobacco Documents Library, now called the Truth Initiative Tobacco Documents Library. In addition to a permanent exhibit at UCSF, it provides online access to more than 14 million once-secret internal documents about tobacco industry marketing techniques.Visit Truth Initiative Tobacco Documents Library
American Journal of Public Health research
Research published in the American Journal of Public Health credits the truth campaign with 22% of the overall decline in youth smoking rates from 2000 to 2002. That’s 300,000 fewer smokers in 2002.See our impact
Delaware Supreme Court ruling
The Delaware Supreme Court unanimously rules in our favor, ending a five-year legal battle with the Lorillard Tobacco Company. The ruling vindicates the bold approach of truth and ends Lorillard’s effort to shut down the campaign.
“Ending the Tobacco Problem” report
The Institute of Medicine releases “Ending the Tobacco Problem: A Blueprint for the Nation,” a landmark report funded by our organization. The report offers broad-reaching recommendations for action by federal, state, local, nonprofit and for-profit entities.
We roll out the online quitting program BecomeAnEX, our first digital quitting tool. It provides free, evidence-based tools to help smokers relearn how to live without cigarettes. When it comes to quitting, EX marks the spot.Explore our quitting programs
“A Hidden Epidemic” report
Our report, “A Hidden Epidemic: Tobacco Use and Mental Illness,” highlights the high levels of tobacco use and nicotine dependence among people with mental illnesses. It explains how organizations supporting people with mental illness can help them quit.
New leadership: Robin Koval
Marketing and communications leader Robin Koval becomes CEO and president, succeeding the organization’s first leader Cheryl G. Healton, DrPH, and oversees a major reinvestment in the truth campaign.Read Robin Koval’s bio
"Finish It" campaign
truth reinvents itself for a new generation with its "Finish It" campaign, aimed at empowering youth and young adults to make their generation the one that finally ends smoking. Our campaign launches at the MTV Video Music Awards with this message: The tobacco epidemic isn’t over, but this generation can be the one to finish it.
New name: Truth Initiative
American Legacy Foundation becomes Truth Initiative. The new name more clearly connects the truth counter-marketing campaign to our groundbreaking research, education initiatives, community engagement efforts and quitting innovations to end tobacco use.
We publish a report examining a collection of 12 contiguous states stretching from the upper Midwest to the South where smoking rates exceed not only the national average, but that of many of the most tobacco-dependent countries in the world. We call this nation within our country “Tobacco Nation” and call attention to the disparities that undermine our national progress.
Protecting a new generation: e-cigarette and opioid epidemics
Truth Initiative launches two new major truth campaigns to address major epidemics impacting young people: one focused on the youth e-cigarette epidemic, called "Safer ≠ Safe," and another on preventing opioid misuse among youth and young adults, called The Truth About Opioids, in partnership with the Office of National Drug Control Policy and the Ad Council.
Two decades of fighting tobacco use
Truth Initiative marks 20 years of lifesaving work that has prevented millions of young people from becoming smokers — including 2.5 million between 2015 and 2018 alone — and helped drive down the youth smoking rate from 23% to just 3.7%. Two decades of combating tobacco use has prepared us to continue the fight and take on the new epidemic of youth e-cigarette use. We won’t stop until we win.
One of the world’s most innovative organizations
Fast Company named Truth Initiative to its prestigious list of the World’s 50 Most Innovative Companies and the Top 10 Most Innovative Not-for-Profit Organizations for 2020. This recognition underscores the efficacy of our efforts to combat the youth e-cigarette epidemic, similar to how we helped drive down teen smoking rates to historic lows. According to Fast Company, Truth Initiative “smartly responded with new truth ads aimed at curbing vaping” and innovative efforts to help young people quit vaping, including a first-of-its-kind text message program This is Quitting.
Self-led, interactive anti-vaping curriculum for youth
In its first year, Vaping: Know the truth – a free, national youth vaping prevention curriculum by Truth Initiative and Kaiser Permanente in collaboration with the American Heart Association – is used by 3,319 schools across the country. More than a quarter of a million students (260,000) actively engage in this self-led, interactive, digital truth course available through the leading social impact education innovator, EVERFI.
More than 500,000 young people using This is Quitting: Helping half-a-million young people quit vaping nicotine
Our first-of-its-kind text message program This is Quitting from truth reaches a milestone, helping half-a-million young people quit vaping nicotine. First launched in 2019, This is Quitting was developed with input from teens, college students and young adults who have attempted to, or successfully, quit e-cigarettes. The program uses text messages – tailored by age, e-cigarette product usage, and stage of quit journey – to show the reality of quitting. It is the largest quit vaping program in the country and the only one that has been validated by peer-reviewed research.