FDA Targeting Multicultural Youth in New Campaign

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is launching a national public education campaign to prevent and reduce tobacco use among multicultural youth who identify with the hip-hop peer crowd. The "Fresh Empire" campaign targets youths aged 12-17.

The FDA is focusing on the hip-hip peer crowd because research estimates they are more likely to use tobacco than other young people. The group is often hard to reach and frequently exposed to pro-tobacco images and messages, according to the announcement.

"Unfortunately, the health burdens of tobacco use disproportionately affect minority teens — particularly African-American and Hispanic youth," stated Jonca Bull, the FDA's assistant commissioner for minority health. "The 'Fresh Empire' campaign will help reach teens at a key point in their lives when experimenting with smoking can lead to addiction."

The campaign is designed to associate living tobacco free with a hip-hop lifestyle through a variety of interactive marketing strategies. This includes traditional paid media, engagement through multiple digital platforms, and outreach at the local level. The ads and local events in particular feature community influencers who reinforce that tobacco use is not a part of the hip-hop lifestyle.

Campaign ads will air nationally for the first time in conjunction with the 2015 BET Hip-Hop Awards on Oct. 13.

"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."

The campaign's messaging reflects hip-hop ideals such as being authentic, powerful, confident, fashionable, creative and trendsetting. The ads are intended to deliver tobacco education in a straightforward manner that is relevant to hip-hop youth who relate to values such as working hard to achieve success and attaining or regaining control.

"Fresh Empire" will launch the week of Oct. 12 in approximately 36 markets throughout the United States and run for at least 24 months. The $128-million campaign is funded by tobacco user fees.

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