A new anti-smoking campaign from the Food and Drug Administration targets kids who care more about their appearance than their health.
The $115 million project called “The Real Cost” warns the 10 million Americans ages 12 to 17 who are experimenting with or open to cigarette smoking of premature aging, wrinkles, and yellow and decaying teeth.
Some of the ads are graphic in nature, showing teens pulling out teeth or ripping off skin to pay the "real price" of cigarettes.
The campaign is based on research that found teens are more concerned with their appearance than the long-term risk of cancer, according to the FDA’s director of the Center for Tobacco Products, Mitch Zeller.
"While most teens understand the serious health risks associated with tobacco use, they often don't believe the long-term consequences will ever apply to them," said FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg. "We'll highlight some of the real costs and health consequences associated with tobacco use by focusing on some of the things that really matter to teens — their outward appearance and having control and independence over their lives."
The FDA reports more than 700 kids under age 18 become daily smokers every day. Nearly 90 percent of adult smokers began smoking by age 18.
The agency hopes to decrease the number of youth cigarette smokers by at least 300,000 in the next three years, the Associated Press reported.
Matthew Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, told USA Today that the campaign "is one of the most important efforts in recent times in the effort to reduce youth smoking."
"The FDA has carefully researched which ads will have the greatest impact on at-risk youth. These were designed with the same scientific rigor that Madison Avenue uses to market its products,” Meyers said.
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