Shifting demographics of tobacco use among findings of new surgeon general’s report

FDA to roll out multi-media campaign focused on at-risk youth.

On Jan. 17, the Department of Health and Human Services released The Health Consequences of Smoking: 50 Years of Progress. A Report of the Surgeon General. Psychologists were among the leading tobacco control scientists who served as authors or reviewers of the report. Among the report’s findings are the shifting demographics of tobacco use toward persons of lower socioeconomic status, sexual minorities, high school dropouts, certain racial/ethnic minority groups and those living with mental illness and substance use disorders.  

In order to address these trends, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is mounting an aggressive multi-media advertising campaign to target 12-17-year-olds in general and many of the marginalized groups within that age bracket to prevent initiation and promote cessation of tobacco products.  

Staff from the American Psychological Association (APA) were among those invited to a Jan. 23 private briefing on the new campaign organized by the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids. Leading the briefing were the officials overseeing the campaign: Mitch Zeller, director of the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products, and Kathy Crosby, who serves as the center’s health communications director. Zeller and Crosby noted that the early February rollout will target all at-risk vulnerable youth followed by complementary campaigns focused on rural male smokeless tobacco users, then various racial and ethnic minorities and, finally, lesbian-gay-bisexual-transgender youth. 

Although campaign details are still embargoed, Zeller and Crosby assured the group that the messaging had been developed based on rigorous research designed to: 

  1. Raise awareness; 
  2. Change knowledge, attitudes and beliefs about tobacco harm;
  3. Change behavioral intent and;
  4. Ultimately change behavior. 
The campaign has been designed with robust behavioral baseline measures from which the outcomes of the campaign will be evaluated.  

FDA is reaching out to many scientific and professional organizations to help amplify the messaging in the new campaign. Stay tuned to APA social media for its debut in the days ahead.

For more information contact Geoff Mumford.