New FDA Anti-Tobacco Education Campaign Launches on World Cancer Day

Today, as we do every February 4, we commemorate World Cancer Day. Organized by the Union for International Cancer Control (IUCC), World Cancer Day is a day for the global cancer community to come together and make our voices heard as we raise awareness about the need to make the fight to defeat cancer an international priority.

Continuing the success of last year’s campaign, the theme of this year’s World Cancer Day is once again dispelling myths and misconceptions related to cancer. Therefore, it couldn’t be a more appropriate day for the FDA to launch its first-ever national anti-tobacco education campaign aimed at youth ages 12-17. Many people believe that the tobacco problem is ‘solved’ and that all children understand the immediate and long-term dangers of tobacco use. However, according to the FDA, 10 million youth ages 12-17 are open to smoking or have already experimented with it. Beginning Feb. 11, the FDA’s “Real Cost” campaign is designed to target these 10 million “at-risk” youth and educate them about the dangers of tobacco use and to encourage them to be tobacco-free.

The campaign utilizes a multimedia approach to reach youth through the channels they use including television, magazines, websites and social media channels. The FDA is also hoping to create spaces for teens to engage in conversations with their peers about what it means to be tobacco-free. The ads focus not only on the disastrous health impact of smoking cigarettes, but also tobacco’s ability to take control over your life because of your addiction. The tobacco industry is paying for the $115 million campaign through user fees required by the 2009 law that gave the FDA the authority to regulate tobacco products.

The tobacco companies spend nearly $1 million every hour of every day to addict youth to their deadly products. Large-scale public outreach efforts such as this FDA campaign when combined with other proven tobacco control measures, including comprehensive smoke-free workplace laws, significant tobacco tax increases and fully-funded tobacco prevention and cessation programs, are the most effective ways to fight back against an unscrupulous and unrelenting industry whose mission is to hook youth as early as possible.

ACS CAN fought hard for the FDA’s authority to regulate tobacco products, and we’re pleased to see that the agency is exercising that authority for such a crucial education campaign. Not only does the campaign add to the buzz already generated by the new Surgeon General’s report on smoking, but it will aid in our state tobacco control work that is in full force and compliments our campaign to increase the federal tobacco tax – a proven tool to combat use among price-sensitive youth. We’re working hard to ensure the fight to end the tobacco epidemic is a priority with all of our lawmakers.

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