Maryland is on the hunt for agency support to develop a campaign targeting influencers and anti-smoking groups about youth cigar smoking, which is on the rise despite declines in cigarette smoking.

The state’s Department of Health issued an RFP June 15 for a healthcare communications campaign on a tight budget – $60K in federal stimulus funds – targeting local and state officials and non-profit/advocacy groups to urge tighter regulation as young adults in Maryland have increased the use of smoking small cigars (22% in 2008).

Flavored cigarettes were banned by the FDA in 2009.

Firms which have previously worked for tobacco companies must file a conflict of interest affidavit.

The state notes that small cigars, or cigarillos, are taxed at a lower rate than cigarettes and come in fruit and candy flavors. Many youths also believe cigars are less harmful than cigarettes, the RFP notes.

“Exposing the dangers of these and other tobacco products along with manipulative tactics of the tobacco industry to sell tobacco products to youth will aid in shifting the social-norm environment towards non-tobacco use,” reads the RFP.

Proposals are due July 7.

Subscribers can download the RFP at