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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