FDA Creates Anti-Smoking Campaign Aimed At Teens

screen shot via YouTube/USFoodAndDrugAdmin

The Food and Drug Administration announced that it will be launching its first ever youth tobacco prevention campaign. The $115 million campaign will target those who are most likely to become: 10 million people aged 12 to 17 who are open to trying cigarettes or who have already tried smoking but do not consider themselves to be smokers.

The campaign, “The Real Cost,” will focus on the health impacts of smoking and the loss of control due to addiction. Ads about health impacts will largely talk about how cigarettes can affect appearance, like skin damage and tooth loss, in order to speak to what’s important to teens. And ads about addiction will show teens that cigarettes force them to give up freedom at a point in their lives when they’re just beginning to feel freer.

One commercial shows a girl trying to buy cigarettes. She pays with a few bills and a patch of skin before a voice-over asks, “What’s a pack of smokes cost? Your smooth skin.”

Another depicts a cigarette as a pocket-sized bully. “When I say go outside, we go outside,” he tells one kid. “When I say fork it over, you fork it over,” he says as he takes another kid’s money.

One of the most direct ads has a girl talking about someone who followed her everywhere and bossed her around, revealing at the end that she had unwittingly become a smoker.

The novel campaign will launch Feb. 11 across a variety of media platforms, including television, print, radio and online. The FDA states that the campaign will reach 90 percent of its target audience – 9 million youths – in the first year.

The efficacy of the campaign won’t be known immediately, and the FDA will monitor the teen demographic for several years in order to evaluate the campaign and improve results. The FDA’s goal for the next three years is to reduce the number of smokers aged 12 to 17 by 300,000.

“Our kids are the replacement customers for the addicted adult smokers who die or quit each day,” Mitch Zeller, director of the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products, told the Associated Press. “And that’s why we think it’s so important to reach out to them — not to lecture them, not to throw statistics at them — but to reach them in a way that will get them to rethink their relationship with tobacco use.”