FDA aims to curb smoking among at-risk, multicultural youth

The FDA's Fresh Empire campaign seeks to reach multicultural teens between 12 and 17 years old.

WASHINGTON: The US Food and Drug Administration has launched a new campaign aimed at reducing the number of multicultural teenage smokers in the US.  

"Multicultural youth have historically been underserved by tobacco prevention campaigns and are at a high risk for tobacco use," said Jonca Bull, MD and assistant commissioner for minority health at the FDA, on a conference call Tuesday to announce the new Fresh Empire initiative.

She added that engaging this youth audience with messages to help prevent and reduce tobacco use is "imperative."

Through Fresh Empire, the FDA will try to reach at-risk teens between 12 and 17 years old, "who identify with the hip-hop peer crowd – a group that is often hard to reach, frequently exposed to pro-tobacco images and messages and who have, in many cases, seen the damage tobacco has done in their community," said Bull.

The FDA narrowed its target audience for the campaign, following its last iteration called The Real Cost, which sought to reach "the broad, general market of all at-risk youth in the United States," said Mitch Zeller, director at the Center for Tobacco Products at the FDA.

Kathy Crosby, director of the office of health communication and education at the FDA, said the agency put into place "a marketing strategy that prioritizes digital engagement and interaction as well as in-person participation at relevant events."

On October 12, Fresh Empire will officially launch in 36 markets across the US, with the first national TV ads running during the 2015 BET Hip-Hop Awards on October 13. The FDA confirmed that Rescue Social Change Group is its advertising AOR.

Additionally, the FDA will hold a special event in DC on Wednesday as part of the launch. Local radio spots and additional events will also get underway this month, and more campaign content will roll out next spring.

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