FDA Adds E-Cigs to Youth Education Campaign

SILVER SPRING, Md. — The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is expanding its "The Real Cost" public education campaign to include electronic cigarettes and other electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS).

The new messaging will be part of the FDA's youth initiative this fall and the agency is developing a full-scale campaign to launch in 2018.

According to the FDA, the efforts are part of its new comprehensive plan for tobacco and nicotine regulation, as well as ongoing efforts to educate youth about, and protect them from, the dangers associated with using all tobacco products.

It is the first time the agency will be using public health education to specifically target youth use of e-cigarettes or other ENDS.

"While we pursue a policy that focuses on addressing the role that nicotine plays in keeping smokers addicted to combustible cigarettes, and to help move those who cannot quit nicotine altogether onto less harmful products, we will also continue to work vigorously to keep all tobacco products out of the hands of kids," said FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb. 

"Educating youth about the dangers of tobacco products has been a cornerstone of our efforts to reduce the harms caused by these products. Including e-cigarettes and other ENDS products in our prevention work not only makes sense, it reflects the troubling reality that they are the most commonly-used tobacco product among youth," he added.

The FDA will capitalize on its established "The Real Cost" campaign this fall by releasing new digital materials that are targeted to youth and focused on ENDS. This will include online videos to educate youth about the dangers of using e-cigarettes or other ENDS. 

The association launched "The Real Cost" in February 2014, marking its first youth tobacco prevention campaign, as CSNews Online previously reported. A recent evaluation found that the campaign prevented nearly 350,000 youth aged 11 to 18 nationwide from initiating smoking from 2014 to 2016, according to the agency.

"The FDA has a multi-pronged effort to protect kids from using any nicotine-containing product, including e-cigarettes," said Mitch Zeller, director of the FDA's Center for Tobacco Products. "As we continue to learn more about these products and their relationship to youth, the agency will be better prepared to help address the issue of youth use through science-based educational efforts and regulatory policies that will ultimately pay the greatest dividends in reducing tobacco-related disease and death."