Today the Food and Drug Administration announced its new initiative, the hip-hop focused "Fresh Empire" campaign to promote a tobacco free lifestyle for youth ages 12-17. According to the FDA, the Fresh Empire will use traditional paid media, engagement through multiple digital platforms, and outreach at the local level.
"Unfortunately, the health burdens of tobacco use disproportionately affect minority teens – particularly African American and Hispanic youth,” said Jonca Bull, M.D., the 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."
This isn’t the first time the FDA launched a campaign targeting tobacco use in youth.
In 2011, they launched The Real Cost Campaign to reduce the numbers of adolescents and youth who become regular smokers. It was the first of several tobacco education campaigns using the authority granted under the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, signed into law by President Obama in 2009.
According to the FDA, their campaigns are based on the best available science and are evaluated to measure effectiveness in preventing and reducing youth smoking over time.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), reports that tobacco use remains the leading preventable cause of disease, disability and death in the United States, causing more than 480,000 deaths each year. They estimate that, more than 3,200 youth under age 18 in the United States try their first cigarette and more than 700 kids under age 18 become daily smokers.
Data shows that more than 10 million youth aged 12-17 in the United States are either open to trying smoking or are already experimenting with cigarettes—meaning they have tried fewer than 100 cigarettes in their lifetime.
According to the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, a national advocacy group, one of the challenges is the way tobacco companies specifically target multicultural youth.
Studies show that more retailers sell tobacco products in communities of color, and those retailers are more likely to be located close to high schools in black neighborhoods.
Mathew Meyers, the Campaign’s president has long called for stronger FDA regulations on tobacco products and a ban on flavored cigarettes, just last month.
The “Fresh Empire” campaign will launch the week of October 12 in approximately 36 markets throughout the United States for at least 24 months.
The ads, and particularly the local events, will feature community influencers who reinforce that tobacco use is not a part of the hip-hop lifestyle.
The ads will air nationally for the first time in conjunction with the 2015 BET Hip-Hop Awards on October 13. The $128 million campaign is funded by tobacco user fees.