I want to share with you two important campaigns sponsored by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which are in place to educate today’s youth about the consequences and dangerous health risks associated with the use of tobacco and smokeless tobacco products, in an effort to prevent and reduce more teens from experimenting or starting their use of the various tobacco-related products available in today’s marketplace.
The first initiative, the “Fresh Empire Campaign”, is the FDA’s first public education campaign designed to prevent and reduce tobacco use among at-risk multicultural youth ages 12-17 who identify with hip-hop culture, specifically African American, Hispanic, and Asian American/ Pacific Islander youth.
As stated in the FDA’s website article:
“The campaign associates living tobacco-free with desirable hip-hop lifestyles through a variety of interactive marketing tactics including the use of traditional paid media, engagement through multiple digital platforms, and outreach at the local level.
“Fresh Empire” is dedicated to encouraging hip-hop youth to reach their goals of being successful, attractive, and in control through the tagline “Keep it Fresh: Live Tobacco Free,” which emphasizes to youth that living tobacco-free will help them achieve their idealized self-image. The following key message areas form the basis for campaign advertising:
• Addiction: Positions tobacco addiction as an obstacle preventing youth from being fully in control of their life.
• Harmful Chemicals: Communicates that the toxic mix of chemicals found in cigarettes can have negative, long-term health consequences as well as immediate effects on one’s physical appearance and performance.
• Health Consequences: Addresses how the negative health consequences of smoking cigarettes can affect youth and their parents, siblings, and peers.”
Additionally, in the FDA’s recent press release titled, “FDA launches first ad campaign focused on dangers of smokeless tobacco among rural teens: ‘The Real Cost’ extension draws attention to harmful rite of passage for many at-risk teenagers”, it was announced that the FDA is expanding its award-winning “The Real Cost” campaign to educate rural, white male teenagers about the negative health consequences associated with smokeless tobacco use. Messaging on the dangers of smokeless tobacco use – including nicotine addiction, gum disease, tooth loss, and multiple kinds of cancer – are being highlighted through the placement of advertisements in 35 U.S. markets specifically selected to reach the campaign’s target audience.
As noted in the FDA’a release:
“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,” said Mitch Zeller, J.D., director of the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products. “In communities where smokeless tobacco use is part of the culture, reaching at-risk teens with compelling messaging is critical to help change their understanding of the risks and harms associated with smokeless tobacco use.”
“Smokeless tobacco includes different types of products, such as dip, chew, snus and types of tobacco that dissolve when placed in the mouth. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, each day in the U.S. nearly 1,000 males under the age of 18 use smokeless tobacco for the first time – almost as many male teenagers who smoke their first cigarette – making early intervention critical and highlighting a need for targeted youth smokeless tobacco prevention.”
Please … take a minute to read about these informative FDA campaigns, that are attempting to reach our youth of today and keep them from the dire and unhealthy consequences of tobacco use, which may harm them because of uninformed and uneducated choices made based on “peer pressures” and societal examples confronting our teens on a daily basis.