US launches anti-smoking campaign targeting ‘hip-hop’ teens

Washington, Oct 7 (IANS) The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has announced the launch of a national anti-smoking campaign to prevent and reduce tobacco use among “hip-hop” teens who it said are “often hard to reach and frequently exposed to pro-tobacco images and messages”.

The $128 million ‘Fresh Empire’ campaign, funded by tobacco user fees, will try to associate living tobacco-free with a hip-hop lifestyle through a variety of interactive marketing strategies, including the use of traditional paid media, engagement through multiple digital platforms, and outreach at the local level.

The first ads will air nationally in conjunction with the 2015 BET Hip-Hop Awards on October 13, Xinhua reported on Tuesday.

The campaign will launch during the week beginning October 12 in 36 markets throughout the US for at least 24 months.

The FDA said it is focusing on the ‘hip-hop’ teens because research estimates that they are more likely to use tobacco than other youth.

“We know from our research that remaining in control is an important pillar of hip-hop culture. But smoking represents a loss of control, so tobacco use is actually in conflict with that priority,” said Mitch Zeller, director of the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products.

“The ‘Fresh Empire’ campaign underscores that important message to hip-hop youth, empowering this at-risk peer crowd to live tobacco-free.”

‘Fresh Empire’ is part of the FDA’s ongoing efforts to combat tobacco uptake and use among youth, and complements the FDA’s general market at-risk youth education campaign, ‘The Real Cost’, which was launched in February 2014.

According to the FDA, tobacco use is almost always initiated during adolescence — close to 90 percent of established adult smokers smoked their first cigarette by age 18 — making early intervention critical.

The agency said more than 2,600 youth under the age of 18 smoked their first cigarette each day in the US and nearly 600 became regular smokers.

It noted that about 4.4 million “multi-cultural youth” are open to smoking or are already experimenting with cigarettes, which highlighted a critical need for targeted youth tobacco prevention efforts.

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