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RICHMOND, Va. -- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will spend nearly $600 million over the next five years to educate consumers about the dangers of smoking. The primary goal of the campaign is to reduce the 443,000 annual U.S. deaths attributed to tobacco, Dr. Lawrence Deyton, director of the FDA's Center for Tobacco Products, told the Associated Press.
It will be hard to avoid the multimedia campaign. Ads will run in print, on television and on several social media sites, including Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Although all age groups are sure to see the ads, the primary targets are youths aged 13 to 17, young adults aged 18 to 24 and people who influence teens such as parents and peers, the AP reported. The FDA said daily, 3,450 kids in the United States try their first cigarette and 850 of those subsequently smoke often.
The first ads are expected to coincide with the new graphic warning labels set to appear on cigarette packs by September 2012, according to the report. The ads will be developed by outside firms.
According to Deyton, 46 million adults smoke tobacco. The percentage of Americans who smoke has dropped from 40 percent of U.S. adults in 1970, to 20 percent now. However, the 20-percent figure has not changed since 2004.
"One of the big lessons I've learned is that we might have great public health programs, but they will fail if we do not adequately educate the public about them," Deyton told the AP."[It would not be helpful] to just sit back and put out regulations and [not] say anything about them."
Paying for the campaign will be tobacco companies. The FDA charges fees to these companies under the 2009 law that gave the agency authority over the tobacco industry.