In an effort to prevent youth tobacco use and reduce the number of regular teen smokers, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced the launch of a new national public education campaign by the name of “The Real Cost” campaign. One of the FDA’s first of several planned tobacco education campaigns, “The Real Cost” campaign came to be once the FDA was granted more authority under the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, which was signed into law in 2009 by President Obama.
The United States has more than 480,000 deaths from tobacco use, making tobacco use the nation’s leading preventable cause of disease, disability and death. Each day, more than 3,200 youth younger than the age of 18 in the United States try their first cigarette. More than 700 children younger than 18 each day become daily smokers.
Kathleen Sebelius, the Department of Health and Human Services Secretary, aims to make the future generation tobacco-free. “The Real Cost” campaign will target nearly 10 million young people from ages 12 to 17 who have never smoked a cigarette, but would be open to experiment with cigarettes. The campaign will also target youth who have already experienced smoking and are at risk of becoming regular smokers.
“We know that early intervention is critical, with almost nine out of every 10 regular adult smokers picking up their first cigarette by age 18,” said FDA Commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg, M.D. “Today marks a historic moment as we launch the FDA’s first-ever national education campaign to prevent tobacco use among our nation’s youth, and we bring to life the real costs that are of the most concern to young people.”
Using a strong multimedia approach, compelling facts and vivid imagery, “The Real Cost” campaign will focus on shifting beliefs and behaviors of cigarette usage over a period of time. In order to better educate youth about the dangers of tobacco use, the campaign will utilize multiple social media platforms to help teens engage in peer-to-peer conversations about the issue.
Many campaigns will be launched by the FDA in the next few years, addressing tobacco use in several subcultures such as multicultural youth, rural youth and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) youth.
“The FDA has collaborated with some of the brightest and most creative minds to develop a multimedia initiative designed to make the target audience acutely aware of the risk from every cigarette by highlighting consequences that young people are really concerned about,” said director of the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products, Mitchell Zeller.
“The Real Cost” campaign will depict the real, dramatized health consequences of smoking, including tooth loss and skin damage to prove the “cost” of a cigarette that is more than financial. Another approach will focus on the loss of control in youths that believe they are not addicted or can quit whenever they choose.
Draftfcb, an award-winning global marketing communication agency, will approach the subject from many different angles, such as television, print, radio, online and out-of-home advertising. More than 200 markets throughout the United States will run the initial ads for at least 12 months each.