The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has launched a national public education anti-smoking campaign aimed at teens to prevent tobacco use and reduce the number of kids between ages 12-17 years old using tobacco. The campaign launched Tuesday across multiple media platforms.
“The Real Cost” campaign is FDA’s first youth tobacco prevention campaign. It targets at-risk youth who are already smoking or are open to experimenting with cigarettes, aiming at keeping them from becoming regular smokers. The campaign will air in more than 200 markets across the country for at least one year.
According to the FDA, every day more than 3,200 youth under the age 18 in the United Stated try their first cigarette and more then 700 kids under age 18 become daily smokers.
Christi Gregory, head nurse for Cleburne ISD said she thinks the campaign is excellent and believes it will be a successful program.
“Any program that prevents youth trying that first cigarette is beneficial,” Gregory said. “Youth are so impressionable during 12-17 years of age. We need to encourage them to not pick up the first cigarette. This program has several videos and promotions to show what happens to your body when you smoke.”
The main approach the campaign is taking is dramatizing the health consequences of smoking by graphically depicting tooth loss and skin damage. In one TV ad it shows a teen not being able to afford a pack of cigarettes so she compensates by ripping out patches of her skin to pay the clerk. In other ads young children are shown with wrinkled faces.
Marci Thompson, Wheat Middle School counselor said she believes this approach will be beneficial in targeting teens more than any other anti-smoking campaign.
“The campaigns before didn’t seem to have a grasp of their future,” Thompson said. “Before they would show kids pictures of what their lungs would look like when they were 80 years old and they just don’t care. [This campaign] targets this age group by showing how smoking will affect them now rather than when they’re 80.”
Thompson said young teens tend to pick up smoking because they see older teenagers smoking so they think it’s the cool thing to do. Thompson also said other teens who are vulnerable are those who tend to live chaotic and stressful lives.
Thompson is excited about this new campaign and plans to encourage the school to implement the ads in the school’s alcohol/drug abuse lessons for the students.
The campaign uses social media platforms in order to reach the young audience in hopes that teens will engage in peer-to-peer conversations about the issue.
“The FDA has collaborated with some of the brightest and most creative minds to develop a multimedia initiative designed to make the target audience acutley aware of the risk from every cigarette by highlighting consequences that young people are really concerned about,” Mitch Zeller, JD, FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products director said in a statement released by the FDA.
“The Real Cost” campaign is one among many efforts to create a smoke-free society. Earlier this month, Centers for Disease Control also began its’ 2014 Tips From Former Smokers campaign, in which TV ads show the dramatic harms of smoking. Also this month, CVS Caremark, the nation’s second-largest pharmacy chain, announced it will stop selling tobacco products in more than 7,500 drugstores.
Last month acting U.S. Surgeon General Boris Lushniak released a report on tobacco-control. Lushniak told the Associated Press he believed the nation had enough public health tools to get to zero level of smoking.
“The Real Cost” campaign is a $115 million campaign that is funded by industry user fees and the FDA will evaluate the campaign over time to see if it’s effective.