FDA Launches Campaign on Dangers of Smokeless Tobacco Among Rural Teens

The campaign aims to draw attention to this harmful rite of passage.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced it is expanding its "The Real Cost" campaign to educate rural, white male teenagers about the negative health consequences associated with smokeless tobacco use. Advertising is being placed in 35 U.S. markets to reach this specific audience.

"Not only is the target audience using smokeless tobacco at a high rate, but many do not fully understand the negative health consequences of their actions," said Mitch Zeller, J.D., director of FDA's Center for Tobacco Products. "In communities where smokeless tobacco use is part of the culture, reaching at-risk teens with compelling messaging is critical to help change their understanding of the risks and harms associated with smokeless tobacco use."

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, nearly 1,000 males under the age of 18 use smokeless tobacco for the first time each day. FDA states that it has become a rite of passage in rural communities for teenagers to adopt smokeless tobacco, thanks to role models such as fathers and community leaders using the product.

Smokeless tobacco use is more than twice as likely in rural areas than in metropolitan areas.

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