FDA Launches Adolescent Anti-Smoking Campaign


The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is launching a campaign against adolescent smoking next week. It has been statistically detected that nearly 3,000 teens under the age of 18 start smoking a cigarette, and around 700 of those smoke on a daily basis.

Moreover, statistics have shown that tobacco is the number one cause of sudden preventable death. It was discovered that tobacco killed 100 million people in the 20th century and if no attempt was made to control it, the number of deaths will exceed one billion people by the 21st century. Not to mention there are nearly 43.8 million smokers in the United States today according to statistics.

The campaign is designed to protect the present youth and the future generation. The FDA campaign will debut by spreading ads on television and social media by February 11. The ads are expected to be persistent and provocative. Usually TV ads target adult smokers, but what’s more unique about the new FDA campaign against smoking is the fact that it addresses a very significant age in society: teenagers. Thus, the design of the ads will be both enlightening and appealing. It will contain colorful graphics and convey a direct, harsh yet positive message. Advertisements promoting the anti-smoking campaign will run in more than 200 markets throughout the US for a whole year. One of the ads depicts a clumsy, slovenly dressed man who tries to lure kids by pursuing them everywhere they go to and command them to switch off their TVs and follow him outside in the rain, to pay off their money and enjoy a moment of loneliness. This advertisement explains how smoking confines the life of a smoking adolescent and makes him or her lose social connections and feel rather alienated.

Although most teenagers who smoke are aware of the side effects and health risks of smoking, they do not often expect to experience the consequences in the long run. For this reason, the FDA campaign mainly focuses on issues that really matters to teens, like their physical appearance and energy. The campaign will be called The Real Cost.

FDA is also willing to appeal for the ruling of Tobacco Control Act which was first introduced in 2009 but was not passed yet. It requires graphic warning labels to be shown on the front and the rear of the cigarette packages, covering 50 percent of the package and to be shown in tobacco advertisements.  The graphic warnings should be occupying at least 20 percent of the TV or social media advertisements. Warning labels aim at informing smokers of smoking health hazards as well as making the package unappealing for smokers and thus compel them to lose interest and eventually quit. Using graphic warning labels on cigarette packages is considered to be an ideal way of communicating with smokers. Moreover, according to the research made by International Tobacco Control (ITC) on warnings placed on cigarette packages, the warning labels tend to reduce smoking consumption as well as increase the motivation to quit.

A recent Australian study was done, exploring the influence of the health warning labels on adolescents. The results showed that teens who discussed the graphic labels with one another were likely to think about quitting and intentions to smoke were lower.

FDA’s national educational anti-smoking campaign aims at creating a healthy society free of young smokers. It aims at enhancing the awareness and the knowledge of adolescents by showing them that the cost of smoking is not just financial but much more physical.

By Mona Salman



The Washington Post

Los Angeles Times