FDA Expands Education Campaign

Media effort to include TV commercials, posters in high schools
Photograph: Shutterstock

LAKEVILLE, Minn.  This week, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced plans to expand its “The Real Cost” media campaign to include advertisements on TV and providing campaign posters for high schools across the country. The campaign launched in 2014 and was designed to teach youth the dangers of cigarette smoking. Since the launch, the campaign has continued to expand, ultimately including a focus on smokeless tobacco products and now, for nearly a year, e-cigarettes.

According to an analysis published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine in 2018, the FDA spent almost $275 million on The Real Cost campaign from 2014 to 2016. Youth cigarette smoking rates have been in steady decline over recent years. The FDA has shared its concern regarding significantly increased numbers of youth experimenting or initiating use of nicotine vapor products. This increased initiation provides the reason for the FDA expand the focus of The Real Cost campaign that will target at-risk youth who might be inclined to experiment with or use vapor products. 

As a part of this expanded effort, the FDA also announced that it will cover the cost of producing and sending posters about e-cigarette use to all high schools across the country. Also, the FDA said it has developed new posters and social media materials “for use by doctors, youth groups, churches, public health agencies and others who may find them helpful on educating youth about the dangers of e-cigarette use.”

The expanded Real Cost campaign emphasis on nicotine vapor products includes TV ads, online video ads, an updated The Real Cost website, social-media materials and the posters for high school bathrooms and other locations. According to the FDA, the expanded initiative will target 10.7 million U.S. youth ages 12 to 17 who have tried or are open to trying e-cigarettes. The new FDA TV ads feature Julius Dein, a popular street magician with a large online presence.

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