FDA launches anti-tobacco campaign focused on youth

The Food and Drug Administration launched an anti-tobacco campaign Tuesday that targets youth and seeks to prevent young people from smoking.

“We are addressing one of the biggest public health problems in this country and in the world,” said FDA Commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg. “It’s something the FDA has not really done before in terms of a broad public health campaign of this magnitude but it’s something that we are so pleased to doing because it matters for health.”

According to the FDA, more than 3,000 young people try their first cigarette every day. And each day more than 700 youth under the age of 18 become regular smokers.

The FDA is hoping to educate this age group, between ages 12 and 17, on the harmful effects of smoking through The Real Cost campaign. The campaign plays on some of the more superficial effects of smoking like wrinkles, bad breath and stained teeth.

“The Real Cost campaign is going to find teens wherever they’re watching or using media,” said Mitch Zeller, J.D., Director of FDA Center for Tobacco Products, “and we’re going to surround our target with compelling and personally relevant messages about the health consequences of smoking and what happens when you become addicted.”

Ads portraying the negative effects of smoking will target youths who use social media, watch television, listen to the radio, read the newspaper and go to the movies. The ads will run for at least one year in 200 markets throughout the country.


The campaign’s $115 million cost was funding by “tobacco user fees” from manufacturers and companies that import tobacco products. The FDA was granted the authority to conduct a widespread campaign by the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act of 2009 and the administration plans to launch several other educational campaigns in the coming years. These campaigns will target more specific audiences such as “multicultural youth, rural youth, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) youth.”