The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)has launched a national public education campaign to prevent and reduce tobacco use among groups that are frequently exposed to pro-tobacco images and messages.
Multicultural youth who identify with the hip-hop peer crowd have been particularly difficult to reach, and they are the main focus of the new campaign. While multicultural teens identify with more than one group, the FDA is focusing on those in the hip-hop peer crowd because research estimates that they are more likely to use tobacco than other youth.
“Unfortunately, the health burdens of tobacco use disproportionately affect minority teens – particularly African American and Hispanic youth,” said Jonca Bull, M.D., 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 “Fresh Empire” campaign, which targets youth ages 12-17, works to associate living tobacco free with a hip-hop lifestyle through a variety of interactive marketing strategies, including the use of traditional paid media, engagement through multiple digital platforms and outreach at the local level. The ads, and particularly the local events, feature community influencers who reinforce that tobacco use is not a part of the hip-hop lifestyle. The 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.”
Fresh Empire’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 manner that is straightforward and relevant to hip-hop youth who relate to values such as working hard to achieve success and attaining or regaining control.
The “Fresh Empire” campaign will launch the week of October 12 in approximately 36 markets throughout the U.S. for at least 24 months. The $128 million campaign is funded by tobacco user fees.
Tobacco use is almost always initiated during adolescence ‒ close to 90% of established adult smokers smoked their first cigarette by age 18 ‒ making early intervention critical. In fact, youth initiation numbers show that each day in the U.S. more than 2,600 youth under the age of 18 smoked their first cigarette, and nearly 600 became regular smokers. Approximately 4.4 million multicultural youth are open to smoking or are already experimenting with cigarettes (i.e., have smoked fewer than 100 cigarettes in their lifetime), highlighting a critical need for targeted youth tobacco prevention efforts.
“Fresh Empire” is part of the FDA’s ongoing efforts to combat tobacco uptake and use among youth, and complements the FDA’s general market at-risk youth education campaign, “The Real Cost,” which launched in February 2014. The FDA’s campaigns are based on the best available science and are evaluated to measure effectiveness in preventing and reducing youth smoking over time.