Youth Smoking Prevention Campaign Shows Positive Results

August 29th 2019
Jennifer Gershman, PharmD, CPh
Jennifer Gershman, PharmD, CPh

Since the campaign was launched, over 21.9 million youth have visited the website and 31.6 million youth have connected with the FDA on social media.

Preventing smoking in the youth is crucial for reducing tobacco-related disease and death. The FDA’s “The Real Cost” campaign was created in 2014 to raise awareness about the dangers of smoking, with the use of advertisements and messages through TV, digital, and social media platforms, among others.1

Since the campaign was launched, over 21.9 million youth have visited the website and 31.6 million youth have connected with the FDA on social media.1The theme of the campaign is every cigarette costs you something, and the advertisements highlighted adverse health consequences, toxicity, and loss of control associated with smoking. The newest addition to the prevention campaign is educating youth on the dangers of e-cigarettes.

According to a new study published in theAmerican Journal of Preventive Medicine, the FDA's campaign has prevented approximately 380,000-587,000 youth aged 11-19 years nationwide from initiating smoking.2The study was conducted from November 2013-November 2016 and involved a baseline survey followed by 4 post-campaign follow-up surveys among nonsmoking youths from 75 United States media markets.2There were 4538 households that completed the survey.2

The study revealed that individuals exposed to more campaign advertisements were less likely to start smoking than those with fewer advertisements.2This provides positive feedback that the program is successful at preventing youth from initiating smoking. Study limitations include that surveys can be biased since the information is self-reported. Also, smoking initiation was examined over a 2 year period, so longer studies are necessary to determine the long-term benefits of the campaign. Future studies should also assess whether the campaign prevents youth from initiating e-cigarettes.

Tobacco use kills more than 480,000 Americans annually and costs almost $300 billion a year in direct health care expenses.1It’s estimated that “The Real Cost” campaign will save more than $53 billion in smoking-related costs for youth, their families, and the community.1

Health care providers can play an important role in smoking prevention through community-wide education programs such as health fairs and high-school presentations. These professionals can also question patients about their smoking status and willingness to quit, as well as counsel on smoking cessation options.

References

  1. FDA. Statement on new results demonstrating continued success of the agency’s youth smoking prevention efforts and significant public health cost savings. FDA website.https://www.fda.gov/news-events/press-announcements/statement-new-results-demonstrating-continued-success-agencys-youth-smoking-prevention-efforts-and. Published August 20, 2019. Accessed August 20, 2019.
  2. Duke JC, MacMonegle AJ, Nonnemaker JM, et al. Impact ofThe Real Costmedia campaign on youth smoking initiation.Am J Prev Med[Published online August 20, 2019].https://doi.org/10.1016/j.amepre.2019.06.011.

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