Anti-smoking campaign targets teens

Anti-smoking campaign targets teens

Kids in the United States try their first cigarette before age 18, and more than 700 become daily smokers, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). However, tobacco use still remains the leading preventable cause of disease, disability and death in the United States. To stem the tide of youth using tobacco, the FDA announced its first national education campaign targeted at youth.

The Real Cost” campaign, uses a multimedia approach to target the 10 million adolescents, between ages 12 and 17, who have never smoked a cigarette but are wide open to it and those who already experiment with cigarettes and are at risk of becoming regular smokers.

“We know that early intervention is critical, with almost nine out of every ten regular adult smokers picking up their first cigarette by age 18,” said FDA Commissioner Dr. Margaret Hamburg in a statement.

Ads from the campaign educate youth about the dangers of using tobacco and encourage them to be tobacco-free.

One approach “The Real Cost” campaign uses is graphically depicting health consequences such as tooth loss and skin damage, which demonstrates that every cigarette comes with a “cost” that is more than just financial. Another approach reframes addiction to cigarettes as a loss of control to disrupt the beliefs of youth who currently think they won’t become addicted or feel they can quite at any time.

Several social media platforms are also used to create space for teens to have conversations with their peers about the issue in an authentic way.

The campaign’s effectiveness will be measured over time. It is the first of several campaigns the FDA will launch over the next few years. Later campaigns will target other audiences, including multicultural youth, rural youth, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth.

“As we launch the FDA’s first-ever national education campaign to prevent tobacco use among our nation’s youth, we bring to life the real costs that are of the most concern to young people,” said Dr. Hamburg.

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  1. When I have a teen or pre-teen or even younger child patient in our ambulatory urgent aid, I ask the question whether they smoke. The look at me like I’m crazy and say “NO!”. Then I make the point that smoke is poison and get them to promise never to smoke no matter what the pressure is to try it and we share a “High 5”, slapping our hands together to seal the promise. I think kids will remember that if or when the temptation presents. When a young adult reeks of smoke or admits to smoking, I tell the true story of the 28 yr. old patient a few years ago who presented with severe right chest pain and the xray showed a tumor the size of his fist in his lung near his heart and that he lived less than 2 months after that. Then I introduce them to the Quitliine form and encourage them to quit ASAP.

    • Nikki Hopewell April 1, 2014 at 4:12 pm · Reply

      Sheila, that’s really great to hear! I think healthcare workers are on the front lines and it can have a far greater impact coming from you. Thank you!

  2. I guess the world had a blind eye to what is really going on in High School. Since they banned smoking some of the male teachers are now chewing tobacco and spitting into their black coffee cups with coffee in it. At my sons high school. All the sports coaches are also teachers and the kids witness this every day. Every single high school baseball player chewed tobacco. One time the coach said the Dean is coming to check bags make sure nothing is in it. The kids filled up 3 round metal garbage can with chew. Then the coach put it in garbage bags and took it home. My son graduated 4 years ago and him and all of his friends still chew. I have emailed him every picture I could find about mouth cancer and he just laughs at me.

    • Nikki Hopewell April 2, 2014 at 12:41 pm · Reply

      Hi, Sandie,

      That’s really disappointing to hear. Hopefully your son will realize how it could affect his health sooner rather than later. Thank you for sharing your story!

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health enews Staff
health enews Staff

health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Aurora Health sites, which also includes freelance or intern writers.