The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced Tuesday that it is launching a public education program to prevent youth tobacco use, which includes ads specifically aimed at teens. The new effort, named “The Real Cost” campaign, will use both video and print ads to show youth aged 12 to 17 that smoking does have real consequences, even at a young age.
“We know that early intervention is critical, with almost nine out of every 10 regular adult smokers picking up their first cigarette by age 18,” said FDA Commissioner Dr. Margaret A. Hamburg. “Today marks a historic moment as we launch the FDA’s first-ever national education campaign to prevent tobacco use among our nation’s youth, and we bring to life the real costs that are of the most concern to young people.”
More than 3,200 kids under the age of 18 try their first cigarette each day and more than 700 kids under the age of 18 become daily smokers. The Real Cost campaign aims to specifically save their lives. With ads on MTV and in Teen Vogue, as well as social media use, the FDA will run anti-smoking messages in more than 200 markets in the United States. The new multimedia campaign will cost a whopping $115 million, according to USA Today. It will target about 10 million American teens who are already experimenting with cigarettes. The ads were sanctioned under authority granted to the FDA by the Family Smoking and Tobacco Control Act, which President Barack Obama signed into law in 2009. The Act allows the FDA “to regulate the manufacture, distribution, and marketing of tobacco products to protect public health.”
Matthew Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, says the investment is well worth it. "[It’s] one of the most important efforts in recent times in the effort to reduce youth smoking," said Myers, according to USA Today. "The FDA has carefully researched which ads will have the greatest impact on at-risk youth. These were designed with the same scientific rigor that Madison Avenue uses to market its products."
One of the commercials, which was posted on YouTube, shows a teen paying for cigarettes at a store counter. As she pays, her skin is scraped from her cheek and wrinkles begin to appear. The ad says that cigarette smoking “will cost her” her smooth and youthful skin. That ad as well as print ads will emphasize the outward physical effects of smoking.
The campaign is set to launch nationwide on Feb. 11 and will last for at least 12 months. Watch a few of the ads below.