Shock value in anti-smoking ads effective, teens say

Posted at 6:35 PM, Feb 04, 2014
and last updated 2014-02-04 23:28:46-05

SANDY -- The Food and Drug Administration launched its first national anti-smoking campaign specifically targeted at teens.

Nearly 90 percent of adult smokers had their first cigarette before the age of 18, which is why the FDA says early intervention is critical.

The ad campaign slogan is "the Real Cost" -- the FDA says it highlights the consequences of smoking that teens are concerned about, like loss of control due to addition and health effects like tooth loss and skin damage.

An EMT class at Canyons Technical Education School in Sandy watched the ads and had a strong reaction.

“Honestly I felt all of them stood out, it showed exactly what's going to happen through time,” said 18-year-old Brady Parrish.

Erin Wyness, 17, thought the shock value was effective, especially toward her age group.

Everyday 3,200 kids under the age of 18 light up a cigarette for the first time.

In Utah nearly 6 percent of students say they're smoked in the past 30 days.

And though those numbers are on the decline, the FDA says too many kids are still getting hooked.

"This campaign is about trying to reach those kids who are on the cusp of smoking,” FDA officials stated. “Those that have already been experimenting a little bit with cigarettes, or maybe who are just one party away from starting to smoke.”

The students say the ads address some of their insecurities and made them think more about the long-term effects of smoking.

“I think it was really helpful for me and regardless of how many kids it was helpful for if it helps one kid then mission accomplished,” Parrish said.

These ads are the first of five youth-focused campaigns planned through 2015.