If you really want teenagers to quit smoking or never start, don't waste your time scaring them with cancer. Tell them smoking will make them ugly and gross, which appears to be the thrust of the Food and Drug Administration's "The Real Cost" anti-smoking campaign.
Instead of cancer and damage to just about every organ in the human body, the FDA's Real Cost website states, "As a teen, your immediate health concerns may be different from older people's," like bad breath, wrinkles, stained teeth and tooth loss." Apparently the FDA assumes "older" people have simply accepted those things as inevitable.
Somehow the FDA is able to state that every day in the United States, more than 3,200 people under age 18 smoke their first cigarette and 700 more become daily smokers.
So, their "The Real Cost' campaign targets the 10 million people ages 12-17 who the FDA also somehow knows are "open to trying smoking or who have already smoked between one puff and 99 cigarettes in their lifetime."
And what factors make those 10 million young people so much more at risk of taking up smoking? The FDA says they live more "chaotic" and "stressful" lives, often because of their poor socioeconomic condition, which makes them more likely to be surrounded by friends and family members who smoke. As a result, says the FDA, they will smoke as a way to cope or to "exert control or independence."
The FDA also says that since they have no reason to believe they will get hooked on cigarettes, they just aren't very interested in the dangers of smoking.
So what the FDA wants to do through "The Real Cost" campaign is to make teens "hyperconscious" of smoking dangers that specifically interest them, "such as loss of control due to addiction and health effects like tooth loss and skin damage."
"What's a pack of menthols cost," asks one of the TV ads. "Your smooth skin," the ad answers. "Smoking menthols or regular cigarettes cause wrinkles that age you prematurely."
How the FDA Will Make Teens 'Hyperconscious'
Along with the website, the FDA will use an extensive paid advertising campaign to "surround" teens with "The Real Cost" message. Presented on TV, radio and the Internet, as well as in print publications, movie theaters and outdoor locations like bus shelters, the FDA hopes the ads be seen by more than 9 million youths as many as 60 times a year.
And How Much Will That Cost Taxpayers?
Not one red cent, promises the FDA. Like all of its tobacco-related activities, including educating the public about the harms of tobacco use, the FDA will use fees collected from the tobacco industry under the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act of 2009 to pay for the $115 million "The Real Cost" advertising blitz.