FDA Launches New Television Ads Warning Youth About Dangers of e-Cigarette Use
e-cigarettes are the most popular tobacco product among teens, but the FDA’s educational campaign aims to change that.
As part of its “The Real Cost” campaign, the Food and Drug Administration will launch its first television ads educating kids about the potential risks and dangers of e-cigarette use, the agency announced last week.
In addition to the advertising buy, the FDA will also provide new educational materials and posters to high schools and middle schools across the country. The prevention campaign has already targeted nearly 10.7 million youth ages 12 to 17 since it launched last September, mostly through digital and social media ads.
Julius Dein, a street magician with millions of social media followers, stars in the new ads, which depict him magically turning teens’ vape pens into cigarettes right before their eyes. Ned Sharpless, the acting FDA commissioner, said that the videos highlight the fact that teens who vape are more likely to start smoking cigarettes, possibly leading to a lifetime of tobacco use and nicotine addiction.
“The troubling epidemic of youth vaping threatens to erase the years of progress we’ve made combatting tobacco use among kids, and it’s imperative that our work to tackle this immensely concerning trend continue to include efforts to educate our nation’s youth about the dangers of these products,” Sharpless said in a statement.
The ads will run on networks like TeenNick, CW, ESPN and MTV as well as music streaming sites, social media platforms and other teen-focused media channels, according to the agency. A FDA study found that more than 3.6 million middle and high school students across the U.S. were current (within the past 30 days) e-cigarette users in 2018, making it the most commonly used tobacco product among American youth.
The FDA’s new posters, part of a partnership with the education company Scholastic, will be distributed nationwide and feature messages like: “You might as well flush your lungs while you’re at it. Vaping can deliver toxic metal particles, like nickel, lead and chromium directly into your lungs.” Schools will begin receiving the posters next month.
“We will continue to work to keep e-cigarettes out of the hands of America’s kids through policies to limit youth access to, and appeal of, e-cigarette products, take vigorous compliance and enforcement actions to hold manufacturers and retailers accountable when they illegally market or sell these products to minors, and continue to spearhead highly successful public education efforts to warn youth about the dangers of all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes,” Sharpless said.
The FDA’s actions to prevent youth tobacco use come as several states, including Texas and Ohio, pass legislation raising the legal minimum age to buy tobacco products from 18 to 21. The FDA has also been cracking down on Juul and other e-cigarette companies in recent months, forcing industry leaders to answer tough questions about what they are doing to curb youth use of their products.