FDA launches new anti-tobacco campaign for teens

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) launched a new public awareness campaign around the dangers of tobacco use.

The youth tobacco prevention campaign, “The Real Cost,” launched Feb. 11 and will run across multiple media platforms, including TV, radio, print and online for at least a year. The campaign targets at-risk youth ages 12-17 who are open to smoking or already experimenting with cigarettes.

According to the FDA, about 10 million youth in the United States currently fall into this category of being open to or already experimenting with cigarettes. Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of disease, disability and death in the United States, responsible for more than 480,000 deaths each year. Every day in the United States, more than 3,200 youth under age 18 smoke their first cigarette — and more than 700 youth under age 18 become daily smokers, according to the FDA.

“The Real Cost” campaign highlights the harmful effects of tobacco use with the goal of reducing the number of youth cigarette smokers ages 12-17 by at least 300,000 in three years.

The campaign features the following messages:

• See what your smile could look like if you smoke.
• Smoking cigarettes can cause yellow teeth, bad breath and gum disease.
• If you're playing with cigarettes, you're harming your teeth.
• Don't smile, smoking may stain your teeth.
• Smoking causes gum disease, which could cost you your teeth.
• Smoking causes bad breath, may stain teeth and causes gum disease that can lead to tooth loss.

The FDA expects the campaign to be a success, highlighting statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that show “new tobacco prevention campaigns that reach 75 to 85 percent of the target audience within one year can expect to produce attitude and behavior change within two years if the time in market is adequately sustained.”

Dentists can use the FDA's stakeholder resource page or campaign information and customizable resources, such as posters, postcards and campaign flyers, in waiting rooms and clinics frequented by teens. All materials are available for free download and many will soon be available for ordering through the campaign's clearinghouse. The FDA also has suggested posts for social media related to the campaign.

This information and more can be found here.