- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 4, 2014

The price tag for a new Food and Drug Administration campaign to tell teens — especially targeted groups, like gays and Native Americans — not to smoke stretches into the millions.

But that investment “is one of the most important efforts in recent times in the effort to reduce youth smoking,” said Matthew Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, in USA Today.

What makes this effort so much more significant than other similar government efforts?

“The FDA has carefully researched which ads will have the greatest impact on at-risk youth,” Mr. Myers said in the report. “These were designed with the same scientific rigor that Madison Avenue uses to market its products.”

The FDA finds that many of the so-called “at-risk” youth take up smoking simply to deal with the “chaos” of poverty-stricken lives, or a violent or unstable home-setting.

“We are not asking about happy-go-lucky kids,” said Mitch Zeller, director of FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products, in USA Today. “They don’t see themselves as smokers. They think they will be able to quit.”

Future ads using more money will target specific groups: Gay teens, for example. Native American teens, for another example. The present ad campaign also flags some of the changes in appearance that smoking sparks.

One commercial, for instance, has a cash-strapped teen paying for cigarettes with skin scraped off her cheek that reveals wrinkles on her face. She pays for the smokes with a handful of youthful skin, USA Today reported.