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FDA set to launch $115 million anti-tobacco ad campaign targeting teen smokers

4 February 2014, 2:57 pm EST By Sumit Passary Tech Times
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The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is all set to launch a major anti-tobacco campaign aimed at teen smokers.

The campaign will cost the government $115 million and is expected to focus on more than 10 million people between the age of 12 to 17 who are open to trying cigarettes or are already experimenting with smoking. The FDA says that these people are at a high risk of becoming regular smokers.

The campaign is scheduled to be launched over the next two years and will target rural, gay, African American, and American Indian youth at risk of starting smoking.

Mitch Zeller, the head of the FDA's tobacco products division, highlighted that the FDA took a scientific approach to develop the campaign. The agency's researchers studied published literature on cigarette use and separated any previous public education campaigns. The researchers then conducted quantitative testing on 1,600 youths before settling on the group of ads.

The FDA said that the ads take two approaches in reaching out to teens. One set of ads show the effects of smoking on physical appearances such as yellow teeth and wrinkled skin. Another set of ads show how cigarettes can affect one's ability to take control of their own life.

The FDA says that the goal of the campaign is to reduce the number of teen smokers by 300,000 within the next three years. Zeller also revealed that the first anti-tobacco campaign called the "The Real Cost" will launch on Feb. 11 this month and will target youngsters who may turn to tobacco as a way of coping with poor or stressful lives.

Advertising agency DraftFCB has created the ads. The anti-tobacco ads will appear in print, TV, radio, billboards and at bus stops.

The FDA will also try to judge the success of the campaign by monitoring 8,000 young people over a period of two years. The agency will measure changes in attitudes toward tobacco as well as in behavior of the people tested before and after the campaign's launch.

The FDA said every day around 3,200 people who are under the age of 18 years try smoking their first cigarette and about 700 become daily smokers. Margaret Hamburg, FDA Commissioner also says that 90 percent of adult smokers start smoking before the age of 18, "which is why early intervention is so critical."

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