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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.

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King Luis February 05 2014 at 4:09 AM

Just have the ads showing the lungs of a smoker instead of the teeth. That will stop a few.

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chezsquirrel February 04 2014 at 10:26 PM

Didn't the FDA approve smoking to begin with, yes!

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Jan February 04 2014 at 7:30 PM

Hmm if the govt REALLY wanted to get rid of these awful things, they'd make them illegal...but.noooo that tax money from them is tooo tempting...talk about hypocrisy

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Lambey February 04 2014 at 6:58 PM

It is just wrong for the government to base an expensive campaign on superficial, cosmetic conditions. The teen idea that there is a standard for perfect appearance is the basis for many behaviors that cause great harm to the youth culture. Such values are at the heart of bullying and eating disorders. In addition, wrinkles are part of the natural process of aging and teens are smart enough to know that wrinkles won't appear overnight. Certainly teen idols like Miley Cyrus and Celina Gomez are smooth faced smokers. This immature propaganda will solve no problems and will intensify others.. Do we really want to encourage young people to see older, wrinkled Americans as somehow less valuable. This campaign should be stopped. The government is ignorantly trending into territory they don't understand and where they don't belong. The amount of money being spent is sickening. So many positive ways to use that money.

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Kirk and Angela February 04 2014 at 6:00 PM

Declare war on smoking, yet they allow the states to legalize marijuana. What a bunch of hippocits!

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LA CATALINA February 04 2014 at 5:55 PM

after smoking 3 cartons of cigs for 40 years I find e-cigs to help me. I am down to 1 pack-a-day. I have COPD. but trying,,,,

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silver2364 February 04 2014 at 5:44 PM

Their just wasting their money.
Kids think different than older people.

They won't get it and it will not effect them.

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westdrugs February 04 2014 at 5:15 PM

Nicotine is a vasoconstrictor, Viagra (TM) is a vasodilator. Can you figure that out?

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JOEM February 04 2014 at 5:11 PM

WITH THE AMOUNT OF MONEY THE GOVERNMENT IS SPENDING WITH THIS CAMPAIGN WHICH CIGARETTE SMOKING ALL BEGAN WITH THE BIG TOBACCO CO. MAKING GIGANTIC DONATIONS TO THE POLITICIANS WAY BACK WHEN. .................................................... But now cigarettes are very expensive and the patches and chewing gum with nicotine are as expensive or more that the cigarettes; why doesn't the government pay a portion or all of the cessation products on the market instead of telling people how yellow their teeth will become and how many wrinkles people will have. Perhaps the government is creating jobs or nepotism which is as rampant with the politicians wasting our money once again. How long will it be before other illegal smoking drugs as it is now become legal like in Colorado for the tax dollars there. You have to see clearly the taxes on their new legal drug is not to far away for NYC to look at the tax revenues and agencies they can open up with their nepotism and all the workers that work for the politicians to get elected will have all those jobs won't they. So government lower the prices of the legal patches and gums that are available for people who want to quit the habits the government created to begin with way back when. Politics again goes on and on forever never looking at the cause and remedies to this smoking crisis with health.

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tml486 February 04 2014 at 4:55 PM

Saw on internet yesterday also where there is now a third hand smoking concern too. It deals with the residual chemicals. These chemicals once released from the cigarette find their way into drapes, clothes, on furniture etc.. And they are not easy to remove. They from what I read these toxins can interact with other elements at that point causing other health issues. To read about it yourself go to: Study: Third-Hand smoke exposure as deadly as smoking. By: Benjamin Farrow. Expect his may not be the only report out there though.

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