Cosmetic consequences of tobacco use may resonate with teens

Feb. 13, 2014 at 9:08 PM
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CHICAGO, Feb. 13 (UPI) -- U.S. dentists say educating teens on the cosmetic consequences of tobacco use may be the most compelling in getting adolescents to never try smoking.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is beginning a national public education campaign targeting the approximately 10 million 12- to 17-year-olds with "real cost" messages about the health consequences of tobacco use.

"Educating teens about the harms of tobacco use in a way that is personally relevant to them can be difficult, especially since many teens believe they won't get addicted and that the long-term health consequences of smoking don't apply to them," the FDA said in announcing The Real Cost campaign.

But there are some "costs" of tobacco use that do resonate with teens, such as cosmetic health effects like tooth loss and skin damage, the American Dental Association said.

Highlighting consequences teens are concerned about that occur today and not in the future is an effective approach to reducing youth tobacco use.

Among the messages that might resonate with teens include:

-- Seeing what a smoker's smile could look like.

-- Smoking could cost your teeth.

-- Smoking cigarettes can cause yellow teeth and bad breath.

-- Smoking causes gum disease.

ADA policy supports FDA regulation of all tobacco products as authorized by the 2009 Family Smoking Prevention and Control Act, including those with risk reduction or exposure reduction claims, explicit or implicit, and any other products offered to the public to promote reduction in or cessation of tobacco use.

ADA's National Action Plan for Tobacco Cessation supports the "an ongoing, extensive paid media campaign to help Americans quit using tobacco."

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