The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced on April 19 its campaign to show rural youth the risks of chewing tobacco and other forms of smokeless tobacco use.
The campaign, called "The Real Cost," will expand to particularly include white male adolescents living in rural areas, where there may be different tobacco norms and cultures being practiced.
The campaign will include placing advertisement in about 35 markets all across the United States, with a specific aim of reaching the target communities. The messages about the hazards of smokeless tobacco will encompass nicotine addiction, tooth loss, gum disorders and different types of associated cancers.
"Not only is the target audience using smokeless tobacco at a high rate, but many do not fully understand the negative health consequences of their actions," says the agency's Mitch Zeller, J.D. He adds that it is very crucial to impart compelling education to target teenagers to help modify their knowledge of the risks and dangers linked with smokeless tobacco use.
The main theme of the educational campaign is to convey that smokeless does not necessarily mean it comes without a cost.
The campaign was derived from valuable insights that came from different groups across states, composed of rural white adolescents aged between 12 to 17 years old.
The focus of the messages to be imparted in the ads will center on topics that strongly speak to the groups at risk. These include cosmetic and health effects, the possibility of losing control over life due to addiction and hazards of the chemicals that make up smokeless tobacco products.
The campaign aims to expand its reach all over the U.S. by using a combination of conventional media tools such as television and print advertisements, digital advertisements and social media.
To know if the campaign has successfully attained its goal, the agency will evaluate the effectiveness of the ads in reaching rural white males and modifying their way of thinking, beliefs, attitudes and intentions toward smokeless tobacco use.
Smokeless Tobacco: A Way Of Life
Smokeless tobacco is more than just a habit in some communities. In fact, it is engraved in their cultures such that it is used as a rite of passage.
Male teenagers are often exposed to their fathers and grandfathers using smokeless tobacco, thus setting an example of what they should follow. With this, it is not surprising to know that the usage of smokeless tobacco in rural areas is twice more common than in urban settings.
As per the agency's Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health (PATH) study, the percentage of white rural males males aged 12-17 years old who are either trying or are at risk of using smokeless tobacco is 31.84 percent. This number can be translated to about 629,000 young males all across the country.
More About Smokeless Tobacco
Smokeless tobacco products come in different forms. Among the most common examples are tobacco dips, chews and those that dissolve when placed inside the mouth.
Every day, almost 1,000 males aged under 18 years old are said to use smokeless tobacco for the first time. This is nearly the same as the number of young males trying to light their first cigarette.
With this, it is really vital to develop and implement prompt action and address the preventive needs of those at risk.