Creative Health & Wellness

FDA Campaign Uncovers ‘Cost’ of Cigarette Use

The FDA and FCB New York are taking an important step in highlighting the longer-term, hard-to-quantify effects of nicotine addiction on teens’ mental health, with their latest campaign targeting youth smokers.

At the core of this effort is raising awareness around withdrawal symptoms, which can set in shortly after smoking a cigarette. Symptoms such as anxiety, irritability, insomnia, fatigue, and excessive worrying can cause teens to feel overwhelmed and lead to a lower functioning mood that can ultimately have a long-term negative impact on their mental wellness.

With this in mind, the campaign is tapping into the power of social media, radio, and digital to encourage conversation, with the goal of helping teens understand the true consequences of smoking and providing a call to action for helping them make informed decisions about their health.

For example, the campaign will center around stories from real teens – from their own perspectives – discussing the realities of trying to break the habit of smoking, considering the uncertainties of quitting, and receiving support on the difficult journey to tobacco-free living.

Regardless of teens’ reasons for smoking, the bottom line is that they need to know how quickly withdrawal can set in, and how it can directly impact their mental health. We hope this campaign will make teens aware that the effects of quitting are immediate and can have a daunting, but the ultimately temporary, effect on their well-being.

We believe it’s important to guide teens to make healthier choices – and arm them with the knowledge to help them make the right decisions when it comes to dealing with nicotine addiction and its implications on their mental health and wellness. It’s our mission to reduce the number of youth smokers and ultimately help teens live healthier and happier lives.

Cigarette smoking is a serious public health concern, and teens in the US have historically been particularly at risk of taking up the habit. To bring attention to the issue, Legacy and its creative agencies, Arnold Worldwide and Publicis Seattle, have released a new campaign highlighting that when teens smoke, they are, in fact, bidding for mental health issues.

Centred around a spot, ‘Auctioneer’, the campaign builds towards a shocking realization: the item being auctioned off – a pack of cigarettes – is actually being offered for a series of mental health issues including lack of concentration, inability to sleep, and even overall peace of mind. The spot is focused on a sinister auctioneer character drawing out increasingly desperate bids from a group of nervous teen bidders.

The story arc builds on the idea that people use smoking as an avenue to escape their problems and relief their cravings, but it might just perpetuate them instead. The campaign subtly but clearly brings light to the reality that cigarette addiction can build anxiety and increase stress and will further deepen the crisis of mental health among teens in the US.

By using a strong narrative to turn attention to this serious public health issue, the campaign creates an ominous tone without minimizing the gravity of the situation. The message is simplified and unmistakable: smoking isn’t an escape route; it’s an auction for mental health issues. Through a powerful ad and with an alarming but relevant story, this campaign serves as yet another reminder of how important it is to think twice before you take one.

As the generational gap between Millennials and Gen Z widens, it’s becoming increasingly important to consider the way we talk about health—especially mental health—among these groups. With Gen Z more willing than ever to open up about mental health-related issues, it’s essential that we meet them halfway and use the best scientific evidence available to have meaningful conversations.

At Centre for Tobacco Products’ Office of Health Communication and Education (OTCE), they understand this need and have launched two campaigns to help bridge the generational gap and start meaningful conversations with Gen Z regarding substances and their effects on mental health. The first campaign, ‘Heads Up: Advice for Quitting Smoking,’ delivers evidence-based information on nicotine withdrawal, cigarette cravings, and anxiety in a language Gen Z can understand and find relevant.

The second campaign, ‘Said Every Smoker Ever,’ is a short video focused on the dangers of nicotine addiction as seen through the lens of a teenage girl trying to rationalise her addiction. The goal is to show her—and other Gen Zers—that the mental and physical effects of nicotine addiction affect everyone and our best defence is to avoid becoming addicted in the first place.

The OTCE hopes the two campaigns will inspire meaningful conversations among Gen Zers and their peers, parents, and teachers about substance abuse, addiction, and the mental health effects of nicotine. Through these conversations, OTCE wants to reduce teen smoking and promote healthier habits.

For the past six years, The Real Cost has been working to prevent tobacco use among youths ages 11 to 19, which has resulted in nearly 587,000 young people successfully giving up cigarettes.

But in 2018, the program was faced with a new challenge as e-cigarette use skyrocketed among high school students. To address the issue, FCB NY launched a comprehensive vaping education campaign.

This multi-platform campaign is designed to target teenagers directly and use the communicative methods and formatting these young people prefer. Additionally, The Real Cost reaches out on the topics teens care about and let the facts speak for themselves.

The campaign is intended to equip young people with the awareness, education and information they need to understand the risks associated with vaping. The goal is to empower young people to make informed decisions when it comes to the use of electronic cigarettes, as well as other tobacco derivatives.

The Real Cost’s messaging is clear: vaping is not as safe as you may think. By sharing facts about nicotine addiction, vaping-related health risks and chemicals linked to e-cigarettes, the campaign conveys the stark consequences of vaping in a way teens can understand.

Ultimately, this campaign is more than just a bold anti-vaping initiative – it is an effort to support today’s youth in making healthier lifestyle choices. Through education and awareness, The Real Cost is committed to protecting current and future generations from tobacco use, both old and new.

PR Barn Team

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