FDA Launches the First National Anti-Smoking Campaign

Feb 4, 2014

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is launching its first national anti-smoking campaign on Tuesday called “The Real Cost.” The movement is targeted at teens who are at risk of smoking. 

Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death in America and it is estimated to kill 480,000 people each year.
Credit http://www.niehs.nih.gov/health/topics/conditions/asthma/allergens/smoke/

Mitch Zeller, director for Center for Tobacco Products at the FDA, said the ads are designed to build awareness and change teens' attitudes toward smoking. He said he wants to show teens the health risks of smoking by showing images of lost teeth, gum disease and premature wrinkling. 

The ads, which will begin airing Feb. 11, will be featured on everything from commercials to bus advertisements to Facebook to Twitter to YouTube even to kiosks in the mall.

“Our ads are graphic; our ads are attention building,” Zeller said. 

"The base of the tobacco industry is built on the back of teens," said Adam Bramwell, director of the Tobacco Prevention and Control from the Utah Department of Health. "One of the things we often say is tobacco use is a pediatric epidemic, meaning it starts with teens. About 90 percent of adult smokers started before the age of 18." 

According to the FDA, 3,200 teens between the ages of 12 and 17 try their first cigarette every day in America, 700 of those then become daily smokers. 

The campaign is funded under the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act. Congress passed the bill in 2009 which requires tobacco companies to pay an industry fee which goes toward "The Real Cost" budget. 

Mitch Zeller, the Director of the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products, said Utah has the lowest rate of tobacco use in the country.

“Nationally, we aspire to reduce both adult and youth smoking rates down to the levels which have been achieved in the state of Utah,” Zeller said. “Utah has the lowest adult and high school smoking rates by far and it is really something for the rest of the country to aspire to.”

Bramwell said Utah hasn't always been the best of the nation when it comes to smoking. 

“Since our campaign began in 1999, we have been driving that number down,” said Bramwell. “Today, about 220,000 Utahns still smoke. But, the good news is the overwhelming majority of them say they want to quit. Even those who do smoke, do want to stop their habits.”

Zeller said the campaign will build on what the Truth campaign, funded by the American Legacy Foundation, has already done for the country. 

According the the FDA, tobacco is estimated be the cause of 480,000 deaths in the United States annually. 

Morgan Pratt is a sophomore at Utah State University seeking a degree in Journalism and Communications.