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They’re not scared of lung cancer and they can’t imagine ever developing heart disease. So the Food and Drug Administration is trying to get at what might really scare teenagers in its first campaign against smoking: looking ugly and stupid.
The $115 million “Real Cost” campaign uses a little humor and a few scare tactics to discourage teens from ever starting to smoke.
Advertisements will run in more than 200 markets throughout the U.S. for at least one year beginning Feb. 11. The campaign will include ads on TV stations such as MTV and print spots in magazines like Teen Vogue. It also will use social media.
According to the FDA, nearly 90 percent of adult smokers started using cigarettes by age 18. Nearly 700 youth take up smoking every day.
The FDA is evaluating the impact of the campaign by following 8,000 people between the ages of 11 and 16 for two years to assess changes in tobacco-related knowledge, attitudes and behaviors. Future campaigns will target young adults and people who influence teens, including parents, family members and peers. Other audiences of special interest include minorities, gays, people with disabilities, the military, pregnant women, people living in rural areas, and low-income people.