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The Food and Drug Administration, never known for its cachet with the youth of America, is reaching out with a new hip-hop themed anti-smoking campaign.
Featuring YouTube videos of up-and-coming artists, it’s seeking to discourage black and Hispanic youths from using tobacco.
“I reject anything including tobacco that tries to control me,” one teenager after another says in one of the videos.
“We are working with DJs and musicians and artists that we hope will really help us to get the message out locally,” said Kathy Crosby of the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products.
“Pain, disease death — cigarettes were to blame,” raps Jessica Williams, a young Los Angeles hip-hop artist, in one video.
“Fresh Empire’s messaging reflects hip-hop ideals such as being authentic, powerful, confident, fashionable, creative and trendsetting. The ads are intended to deliver tobacco education in a manner that is straightforward and relevant to hip-hop youth who relate to values such as working hard to achieve success and attaining or regaining control,” the FDA said in a statement.
“Unfortunately, the health burdens of tobacco use disproportionately affect minority teens — particularly African American and Hispanic youth,” said Dr. Jonca Bull, FDA’s assistant commissioner for Minority Health. “The ‘Fresh Empire’ campaign will help reach teens at a key point in their lives when experimenting with smoking can lead to addiction.”
Teen smoking is at an all-time low, under 16 percent, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But research shows almost all smokers start as teenagers, so smoking prevention efforts now target teens.