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FDA launching anti-smoking campaign aimed at youth

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Food and Drug Administration is using ads that depict yellow teeth and wrinkled skin to show the nation's at-risk youth the costs associated with cigarette smoking.

The federal agency said Tuesday it is launching a $115 million multimedia education campaign called "The Real Cost" that's aimed at stopping teenagers from smoking and encouraging them to quit.

Advertisements will run in more than 200 markets throughout the U.S. for at least one year beginning Feb. 11. The campaign will include ads on TV stations such as MTV and print spots in magazines like Teen Vogue. It also will use social media.

"Our kids are the replacement customers for the addicted adult smokers who die or quit each day," said Mitch Zeller, the director of the FDA's Center for Tobacco Products. "And that's why we think it's so important to reach out to them - not to lecture them, not to throw statistics at them - but to reach them in a way that will get them to rethink their relationship with tobacco use."

Zeller, who oversaw the anti-tobacco "Truth" campaign while working at the nonprofit American Legacy Foundation time in the early 2000s, called the new campaign a "compelling, provocative and somewhat graphic way" of grabbing the attention of more than 10 million young people ages 12 to 17 that are open to, or are already experimenting with, cigarettes.

According to the FDA, nearly 90 percent of adult smokers started using cigarettes by age 18 and more than 700 kids under 18 become daily smokers each day. The agency aims to reduce the number of youth cigarette smokers by at least 300,000 within three years.

"While most teens understand the serious health risks associated with tobacco use, they often don't believe the long-term consequences will ever apply to them," said FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg. "We'll highlight some of the real costs and health consequences associated with tobacco use by focusing on some of the things that really matter to teens - their outward appearance and having control and independence over their lives."

Two of the TV ads show teens walking into a corner store to buy cigarettes. When the cashier tells them it's going to cost them more than they have, the teens proceed to tear off a piece of their skin and use pliers to pull out a tooth in order to pay for their cigarettes. Other ads portray cigarettes as a man dressed in a dirty white shirt and khaki pants bullying teens and another shows teeth being destroyed by a ray gun shooting cigarettes.

The FDA is evaluating the impact of the campaign by following 8,000 people between the ages of 11 and 16 for two years to assess changes in tobacco-related knowledge, attitudes and behaviors.

The campaign announced Tuesday is the first in a series of campaigns to educate the public about the dangers of tobacco use.

In 2011, the FDA said it planned to spend about $600 million over five years on the campaigns aimed at reducing death and disease caused by tobacco, which is responsible for about 480,000 deaths a year in the U.S.

Tobacco companies are footing the bill for the campaigns through fees charged by the FDA under a 2009 law that gave the agency authority over the tobacco industry.

Future campaigns will target young adults ages 18-24 and people who influence teens, including parents, family members and peers. Other audiences of special interest include minorities, gays, people with disabilities, the military, pregnant women, people living in rural areas, and low-income people.

Join the discussion

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evonie55 February 04 2014 at 11:14 AM

Take that money and feed the hungry kids here. You should have done this back in the 60"s. Now you're just wasting money AGAIN on a social issue.

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3 replies
jet202 February 04 2014 at 10:37 AM

if this is so bad, why don't all the politicians so bent on saving us, just ban tobacco?

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2 replies
geburuh jet202 February 04 2014 at 10:41 AM

I bet you have no idea how much $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ the US government makes on tobacco tax
Want to see your taxes climb--BAN TOBACCO

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2 replies
cazsue geburuh February 04 2014 at 10:50 AM

The tax per pack would have to be $15 for taxpayers to break even on smokers cost society. NO profit to govt.

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susiec66 geburuh February 04 2014 at 10:52 AM

Obama needs to get rid of a few more jobs too. I do not smoke or work in that industry by feel sorry for more people out of a job.

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cazsue jet202 February 04 2014 at 10:45 AM

Because drug prohibition does not work. We need to stop the tobacco industry tactics that hook kids, since almost all smokers got hooked as kids. Most adults wouldn't smoke if not already addicted.

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emmitch32 February 04 2014 at 10:36 AM

Anti smoking campaign? WHY IS SMOKING EVEN STILL LEGAL!?!??!?!?!

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1 reply
gottabewv emmitch32 February 04 2014 at 11:09 AM

Because laws are supposed to be made to protect the rights of the American Citizen, and not made to take the rights of one to prevent hurting the tender feelings of another. Your government allows big business to poison your air and water every day and it is killing billions of people. Get off the guy smoking a cigarette on the street corner who only harms himself for heaven's sake!

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jgli789056 February 04 2014 at 11:14 AM


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fnr121373 February 04 2014 at 10:32 AM

What I don't understand is why ANYONE would ever start smoking. I mean look at this from a finance point of view.

Cigarettes(around here at list) cost up to $5 a pack. Then if that person smokes 2 packs a day. That's $10 everyday which makes it $70 a week and then 52 weeks $3,640 for a year. Then multiply by let's say 50 years makes $182,000 in a lifetime. Of course there are many variables(Leap years, lifespans differ, and some smoke less, etc.) but that is a big chunk of money to supply this habit.

It is up to the person to decide to do this or not. Think about the money I totaled up which doesn't even include medical expenses for treatment of a life time of smoking. Next time you go to a doctor's office read their pamphlets on various diseases. ALL of them list to get better health STOP SMOKING! Again personal choices but think about these two pints.

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2 replies
michaelnel4449 fnr121373 February 04 2014 at 10:41 AM

Did you ever do stupid things as an teenager? Ever drive too fast, take risks that you wouldn't today?
Was fitting in with friends at any cost a priority? Think about it, it doesn't take much money to start and when their addicted, they work to get their fix until they get sick or die 20 years before their time....

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1 reply
cazsue michaelnel4449 February 04 2014 at 10:53 AM

The tobacco industry relies on the bad decisions making skills of kids.

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Lee and Me One fnr121373 February 04 2014 at 10:50 AM


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Mona February 04 2014 at 10:31 AM

I agree smoking is very bad, however, when are we going to recognize the need to do something about alcohol?? To my knowledge families have never been broken up over cig. but drinking, oh yes, mine was. Fact is, smoking hurts mainly the smoker (yes I know about 2nd hand smoke) where as drinking destroys a lot of innocent people. People don't go down the road and smash into others on the road because they were smoking a cig. but happens all the time with alcohol drinkers! I've done both, not saying either one is a healthy or good thing, but if my child is going out the door with friends that are going to be smoking or friends that will be drinking alcohol, then I would choose the smokers every time, I would think any parent with at least half a brain would! That is, if its the average parent and not the"politically correct" ones that throw the "no smoking but let me help you to the open bar" parties! Fine for our president to be seen drinking a beer with other politicians, but we make sure we got him to quit that BIG NASTY HABIT OF SMOKING!! So please, before you hop on this band wagon to "attack" smokers, ask yourself, what are we doing about alcoholism? I don't think "drink responsible" quite does it. Drinking "responsible" is telling our kids its alright to drink, just make sure you don't drive while or after doing it. REALLY PEOPLE!! What about its addictions, health dangers, and all the rest of the things that come along with drinking! Again, doesn't this seem to be backwards? If you can't see my point, then perhaps you have never had any dealings with alcohol, or too many!!

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3 replies
caboconnie February 04 2014 at 10:30 AM

Good idea, now show pictures when people have had to much to drink!

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tlozaw February 04 2014 at 10:30 AM

Yes, I too have a list of programs where I'd like to see the money go.

However, this $$ isn't from the normal taxpayer till. It comes from "penalties" paid by the tobacco companies for this specific purpose, i.e. anti-smoking education and advertising .

The real crime is how much money is diverted from this intended use to unrelated pet projects by government agencies .

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sybesma1 February 04 2014 at 10:29 AM

how 'bout if they launch a.......anti drinking campaign????!!!! i don't smoke 6 cigaretts, get in my car and kill someone cuz i'm impaired!!!!! or.......i know----an anti

how 'bout if they launched an anti drinking campaign with the same zest and zell that they do smoking!!!!!!?????? i don't smoke 6 cigs and go out and kill someone cuz i can't see straight!!! or.....i know----how 'bout anti eating?????? beings as it is now considered a disability cuz people can't keep their mouths shut and tell themselves NNNOOOOO!!!!!! give me a break! land of the free????? not anymore----we don't even have enough sence to wipe our own butts without someone telling us how anymore!!!!

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drvr74 February 04 2014 at 10:25 AM

TO THE FDA IDIOTS, those millions of dollars you're spending out of OUR POCKETS, would serve better to help our MILITERY men and women..

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