The campaign will use several social media platforms to disseminate facts about the health effects of smoking and show graphic imagery such as tooth loss and skin damage caused by tobacco use.
“The FDA's new public education campaign aimed at preventing youth tobacco use represents the kind of bold action needed to accelerate the nation's progress in reducing tobacco use and ultimately end the tobacco epidemic for good,” Matthew Myers, president of Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, said in a written statement. “This is exactly the strong, science-based response called for by the recent surgeon general's report, which found that smoking is even more hazardous and takes an even greater toll on the nation's health than previously reported.”
The campaign is the first of several the agency plans to launch during the next few years, with each one targeting a specific audience, such as campaigns directed specifically at multicultural youth, rural youth and gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender young people.
Ads are expected to run in more than 2,000 markets throughout the country during the next year beginning Feb. 11. Funding for the $115 million project comes from tobacco user fees collected from tobacco manufacturers and importers of tobacco products as required by 2009's Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, according to the FDA.
The latest U.S. surgeon general's annual report on the health effects of smoking released last month found more than 5 million children under the age of 18 were at risk of dying prematurely because of tobacco use. The warning came despite the current U.S. smoking rate standing at 18%, representing the lowest level since the government began its anti-smoking campaign in the 1960s.
Health experts and anti-smoking advocates have been concerned about the rise in popularity of flavored tobacco and electronic cigarettes. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported last September the percentage of young people using e-cigarettes had doubled from 3.3% in 2011 to 6.8% in 2012.
Follow Steven Ross Johnson on Twitter: @MHSjohnson