FDA tries fighting fire with fire

Preventing Teen Tobacco Use: An Interview With the FDA. Medscape, February 10, 2014.

A longish article of an interview of and FDA official about a new campaign being launched by the FDA to dissuade kids from smoking. Like many behaviors glamorized or encouraged by the media, such drinking alcohol, taking drugs, having sex indiscriminately, or overeating, cigarette smoking remains a serious problem for America’s youth. Despite massive government efforts via fining the tobacco industry, banning TV ads of cigarette products, etc, the problem is not going away.

In fact, the tobacco industry is doing well in terms of turning on kids to smoking at very high rates, as the article states, to the tune of 3200 new kids per day. The tobacco industry knows that, if a child gets addicted early, the industry often has a cigarette consumer for life.

The FDA has decided to fight fire with fire. It is using advertising as a way of fighting tobacco industry advertising. Via short presentations to kids on channels and media sites that kids frequent, the FDA is presenting very unattractive and even hideous images of how tobacco smoking can be very damaging. The images used rely on harm done to skin, gums and teeth, i.e. skin wrinkling, gum disease, and tooth discoloration. To be sure they are cosmetic types of harm, but these are ones that matter to the youth, related to their looks.

The ads will run for about two years, and the FDA is doing a two year study, following 8,000 kids, on the efficacy of the ads. Stay tuned for the outcome of this study.

A sad part of this is the fact that the tobacco industry works so hard to get kids addicted, all the while denying their intention, and the government has to work via the advertising industry to nullify the efforts of the tobacco industry. So goes unbridled capitalism.