Will the FDA’s Vaping Campaign Go Up in Smoke?

Usage of e-cigarettes and vapor products among teens is on the rise according to the FDA. Their new campaign, “The Real Cost”, focuses on educating youth about the dangers of e-cigarettes and vaping. (Photo courtesy of Sarah Johnson)

If you, a Leesville student, are too cheap for Spotify Premium, you’ve probably noticed most of your ads as of late are from the FDA’s “The Real Cost” campaign. The campaign targets teens using e-cigarettes such as Vuse, Blu, Juul, MarkTen XL, and Logic.

The ads are also aired on YouTube, Pandora, Facebook, Instagram, and the FDA’s website.

Some videos depict parasite creatures tunneling across faces, under scalps, and into the lungs of unsuspecting teens. A still image shows a teen’s mouth replaced with a USB-like port. The videos and images are meant to be shocking and disturbing.

“The messages highlight that nicotine can rewire the brain to crave more nicotine…Other messages highlight that e-cigarettes, among other things, can contain dangerous chemicals,” said an FDA press release on the campaign.

They hope to educate youth who have used e-cigarettes or are open to trying them about the potential risks of e-cigarette use.

The campaign costs nearly $60 million but is it effective in ending vaping and e-cigarette use?

“My brother had no exposure to any sort of vaping until it became a thing, and now he’s vaping,” said Emma*, a sophomore at Leesville. She believes that “some kids have it in them to realize that [vaping] is bad,” but many kids don’t realize the harm that can result from e-cigarette and vapor product use.

That being said, she doesn’t think the ads are going to be effective in reaching their teen audience. “I feel like teens just kind of brush them off unless they’re seriously traumatizing,” said Emma, who notes that the ads are more science fiction than fact.

While many credit anti-cigarette ads as assisting them in quitting smoking, her fear is that the ads would have the opposite effect than planned: people who otherwise wouldn’t know about vaping and e-cigarettes are exposed to their use and may begin using the products themselves. Emma’s fear stands even though the ads do not promote e-cigarette use.

The legal age for buying or receiving tobacco products (including vapor products) is currently 18 in North Carolina. North Carolina House Bill 435 proposes to change the age to 21 in hopes of preventing more teens from developing a nicotine addiction. The bill, filed on March 22, 2017, is in committee where members will vote on it.

*Name has been changed to protect the student’s privacy

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