FDA Launches National Youth Anti-Smoking Campaign

"The Real Cost" campaign aims to educate children and teens ages 12-17.

Now that it has jurisdiction over tobacco, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has launched its first national public education campaign to reduce and prevent youth and teen smoking, the agency recently announced. The campaign, "The Real Cost," is aimed at reducing the number of smokers in the 12-17 age group.

According to FDA Commissioner Dr. Margaret A. Hamburg, the program is very important because of how influenced teenagers are by their peers when it comes to smoking. "We know that early intervention is critical, with almost nine out of every ten regular adult smokers picking up their first cigarette by age 18," she said.

The campaign will used multimedia, with vivid ads designed to change youths' impression of tobacco behaviors. Through graphic images of tooth loss, skin damage, and other health consequences of smoking, the campaign aims to show young people that the costs of smoking are more than financial. The campaign will work through various social media platforms that encourage a peer-to-peer approach, as well, and will launch during the next few years.

Currently, FDA reports that each day, more than 3,200 youths under age 18 in the United States try their first cigarette, and 700 children under age 18 become daily smokers.

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