FDA Launches 1st Campaign Against Youth Smoking

A cigarette, nearly broken in half, dangles from a woman's mouth.
(Image credit: Smoking photo via Shutterstock)

The Food and Drug Administration is launching its first national campaign to prevent and reduce smoking among young people, the agency announced today.

"The Real Cost" campaign, which includes posters and TV ads, is targeted to kids ages 12 to 17, and aims to reduce the number of teens who become regular smokers, according to the FDA. About 10 million kids in this age group who have never smoked a cigarette are open to trying it, and are at risk of becoming regular smokers.

"We know that early intervention is critical, with almost nine out of every 10 regular adult smokers picking up their first cigarette by age 18," FDA Commissioner Dr. Margaret A. Hamburg said in a statement. [Never too Late: 5 Bad Habits You Can Still Quit]

Cigarette smoking is the leading preventable cause of death in the United States, accounting for more than 440,000 deaths each year. Each day, nearly 4,000 kids in the United States try their first cigarette, and an estimated 1,000 become daily smokers. Nearly one out of five high school students report having smoked one or more cigarettes in the previous month, according to a 2011 survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"The Real Cost" campaign includes ads developed to educate youth about the consequences of tobacco use on health, and bring to life the real cost of smoking that is more than just financial, according to the agency. The campaign also uses social media platforms to engage teens in conversations about the issue.

The $115 million campaign is funded by fees collected from manufacturers and importers of tobacco products, and launches nationwide on Feb. 11.

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Bahar Gholipour
Staff Writer
Bahar Gholipour is a staff reporter for Live Science covering neuroscience, odd medical cases and all things health. She holds a Master of Science degree in neuroscience from the École Normale Supérieure (ENS) in Paris, and has done graduate-level work in science journalism at the State University of New York at Stony Brook. She has worked as a research assistant at the Laboratoire de Neurosciences Cognitives at ENS.