Reinvigorated truth® Campaign Will Empower Youth to Finish the Fight against Tobacco

Statement of Matthew L. Myers , President, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids

Aug. 12 2014

Washington, D.C. – Legacy's truth® campaign has been the boldest and most successful media campaign ever conducted to prevent youth tobacco use in the United States. So it is uniquely important for America's kids and health that Legacy has announced it is launching a new generation of truth® aimed at ending the tobacco epidemic for good.

This is exactly the kind of strong, science-based response called for by the 2014 Surgeon General’s Report, which found that smoking is even more hazardous and takes an even greater toll on the nation’s health than previously reported.

Both the previous and new iterations of the campaign have been based on the best available research. Legacy has done a remarkable job adapting truth® to new times, new media and new public health goals.

The truth® campaign has been both highly effective and cost-effective in preventing America’s youth from starting to smoke. One study found that truth® was directly responsible for keeping 450,000 teens from starting to smoke during its first four years, while a second study found that the campaign resulted in savings of between $1.9 billion and $5.4 billion in health care costs in just its first two years.

truth®, along with the FDA’s The Real Cost campaign and the CDC’s Tips from Former Smokers campaign, are important steps toward fulfilling one of the key actions recommended by the 2014 Surgeon General’s report, which calls for “counteracting industry marketing by sustaining high impact media campaigns … at a high frequency level and exposure for 12 months a year for a decade or more.” These campaigns are a necessary counter to the $8.8 billion a year – $1 million every hour – the tobacco industry spends to market its deadly and addictive products.

truth®, which asks youth to take an active role in ending the tobacco epidemic, perfectly complements the FDA’s campaign targeting at-risk youth and the Tips campaign, which is aimed primarily at encouraging current adult smokers to quit. We applaud Legacy, the FDA and the CDC for their leadership in running these well-coordinated campaigns. These are smart investments that will reduce tobacco use, save lives and save money by reducing tobacco-related health care costs.

The latest Surgeon General's report found that smoking kills 480,000 Americans and costs the nation at least $289 billion in health care expenses and other economic costs each year. Tobacco is the nation’s number one cause of preventable death, accounting for about one in every five deaths in the U.S.

The Surgeon General's report also found that 5.6 million children alive today will die prematurely from smoking-caused disease, unless current trends are reversed. truth® will prevent many of these kids from using tobacco, sparing them the premature deaths and devastating diseases that so often result.

The new campaign theme, “Finish It,” seeks to empower teens to end the tobacco epidemic for good. Through TV advertisements, digital media and social media, truth® is expected to reach 35 million 15-21 year-olds with the message that they can be the generation that ends smoking.

Background: Evidence that Media Campaigns Work

Substantial scientific evidence shows that mass media campaigns reduce the number of children who start smoking and increase the number of smokers who quit, saving lives and health care dollars.  Public health authorities including the Surgeon General, the National Cancer Institute, the Institute of Medicine and the CDC have all examined the evidence and concluded that these campaigns work.

The 2014 Surgeon General's report concluded that "mass media campaigns… prevent initiation of tobacco use and reduce the prevalence of tobacco use among youth and adults." The 2012 Surgeon General's report concluded, "Evidence indicates that mass media campaigns can be one of the most effective strategies in changing social norms and preventing youth smoking."

For more information, see our fact sheet: Public Education Campaigns Reduce Tobacco Use.

 

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