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FDA to Teens: Consider ‘Real Cost’ of Tobacco

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FDA asks teens to consider Auremar/PhotoSpin

Ads aimed at discouraging kids and teens from using tobacco began to air on Feb. 11, 2014 on TV, radio and the Internet across the nation, as part of a new hard-hitting anti-smoking campaign launched by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The Real Cost campaign goal is to reduce the number of future adults who are at risk of developing serious long-term tobacco-related health problems by convincing young people 12-17-years of age who smoke or are experimenting with cigarettes to kick the habit now, and stay tobacco free for life, said FDA commissioner Dr. Margaret A. Hamburg.

This is the FDA's first ever campaign to prevent youth tobacco use.

The federal agency estimates more than 10 million teens are open to smoking or already have experimented with cigarettes and are in danger of become hooked in the near future. That’s a big social and financial problem for a struggling national economy.

Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of disease, disability and more than 480,000 deaths in the United States each year. It costs the nation $193 billion annually in health care and lost productivity, according to the American Cancer Association.

Mitch Zeller, J.D., director of FDA's Center for Tobacco Products, said that tweens and teens share important characteristics that put them at risk for tobacco use.

“They [at-risk teens] are more likely to live chaotic, stressful lives due to factors such as socioeconomic conditions; be exposed to smoking by friends and family; and use tobacco as a coping mechanism or a way to exert control or independence,” he said.

Additionally, many at-risk youths who experiment with cigarettes don’t consider themselves smokers or believe they will become addicted, and they are not particularly interested in the topic of tobacco use. Yet, some recent studies show current adult smokers who held these beliefs as teens were still lighting up a decade later.

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