FDA youth tobacco prevention campaign


Washington—The U.S. Food and Drug Administration will launch a national public education campaign targeting 12-17 year-olds with “real cost” messages about cosmetic, oral and other health consequences of tobacco use.

“Educating teens about the harms of tobacco use in a way that is personally relevant to them can be difficult, especially since many teens believe they won’t get addicted and that the long-term health consequences of smoking don’t apply to them,” the FDA said in announcing The Real Cost campaign at the National Press Club.

“But there are some ‘costs’ of tobacco use that do resonate with teens, such as cosmetic health effects like tooth loss and skin damage. Highlighting consequences that teens are concerned about is an effective approach to reducing youth tobacco use.”

The campaign will start with cigarettes and expand to smokeless and other tobacco products, the first TV ads airing Feb. 11 and extending across online, offline, print, radio, social and other media platforms for at least a year. Among the messages:

  • See what your smile could look like if you smoke.
  • Smoking could cost your teeth
  • 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 U.S. Surgeon General’s 50th anniversary review of tobacco science since Dr. Luther Terry’s 1964 report on smoking and health updates evidence on the implications for oral health from tobacco use and the “expanding use of multiple products or the replacement of conventional combustible cigarettes with other nicotine delivery systems.”

ADA policy supports FDA regulation of all tobacco products as authorized by the 2009 Family Smoking Prevention and Control Act, including those with risk reduction or exposure reduction claims, explicit or implicit, and any other products offered to the public to promote reduction in or cessation of tobacco use. ADA’s National Action Plan for Tobacco Cessation supports the “launch [of] an ongoing, extensive paid media campaign to help Americans quit using tobacco.”

Visit and the tobacco control site for more information on Association tobacco policy and resources.

FDA’s ad campaign will target an estimated 10 million at-risk teens about the harmful effects of tobacco use. “We know that early intervention is critical, with almost nine out of every 10 regular adult smokers picking up their first cigarette by age 17,” said FDA Commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg, M.D. “This campaign will allow teens to rethink their relationship with tobacco,” FDA’s Kathy Crosby added.

“We view this campaign as a major investment in the power of prevention,” said Howard Koh, M.D., assistant secretary for health in the Department of Health and Human Services, FDA’s parent agency. The $115 million campaign, including research, creative development and media placement in more than 200 markets, is financed by industry user fees, the FDA said. The Tobacco Control Act authorized the FDA to collect tobacco user fees from manufacturers and importers of tobacco products to implement the law.

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