Graphic FDA Campaign Aims to Jolt Teens Out of Smoking

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  • Teen walks into a convenience store, slaps down money and an ID for a pack of smokes. “That’s not enough,” the clerk says. The kid grabs a pair of pliers and yanks out a tooth. Gross? You bet. But that’s the point: “Smoking can cause serious gum disease that makes you more likely to lose [your teeth].”
  • Made to highlight “The Real Cost” of smoking, the FDA’s anti-smoking campaign uses shock tactics to drive its message home. In another spot, a teen rips off a piece of skin to dramatize damage done to the epidermis.
  • Scheduled to run in more than 200 US markets on TV networks like MTV, with additional support from print ads, the $115 million campaign aims to reduce teen smokers by 300,000 within three years (HuffingtonPost.com, 4 February 2014).
  • More than 700 kids under the age of 18 become daily smokers every day.
  • Watch the ad here: Anti-smoking commercial

BalancedHealthy POV:

  • This type of ‘shock’ advertising is not something new to this category, but it has now evolved into something that may resonate with younger audiences much more. Previous attempts, while shocking to see a black lung infected by cancer, or an old woman with a hole in her throat, are extreme examples of the outcomes of smoking and are not something that may resonate with younger consumers who are just starting to make the decision to smoke. There’s the mindset of the invincible “that won’t happen to me” because they’re young or that if they look and feel fine, there’s probably nothing wrong. This new attempt by the FDA plays into young consumers’ vanity and may be just what they need to see to deter them from smoking. It helps to show that yes, you may not end up at the extreme end of what can happen when you smoke, but there are many other, smaller consequences that you have to deal with along the way.
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