As part of its “The Real Cost” campaign which was launched last September, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), has just released a new television and digital ad campaign, which warns teens about the potential dangers of vaping. Called “Magic,” the tv ads feature street magician Julius Dein, who has approximately 800,000 followers on YouTube.
In the misleading ads, which will air on a select few TV networks, including TeenNick, CW, ESPN and MTV, Dein places a Juul device in a teen’s hand and magically turns it into a cigarette. “Teens who vape are more likely to start smoking cigarettes,” the ads then read. “It’s not magic; it’s statistics,” says the magician in the background.
“‘The Real Cost’ e-cigarette prevention campaign advertising was thoroughly informed by both qualitative and quantitative research,” said Michael Felberbaum, a press officer at the FDA. “The ads will air during TV programs and on networks with a large youth audience.”
“The promise of the ad is that if you vape, you are going to suddenly find yourself smoking. But the experiences that youth are having are not consistent with that. Kids who are vaping are not seeing all their friends who vape starting to smoke.”
However, renowned professor and American tobacco control expert at the Boston University School of Public Health Dr. Michael Siegel, is unimpressed. Commenting about this ad campaign, he pointed out that highlighting the link between vaping and cigarettes probably won’t ring true to teen vapers, which will make it “completely ineffective.”
“I do not find the ads at all compelling,” said Siegel. “The promise of the ad is that if you vape, you are going to suddenly find yourself smoking. But the experiences that youth are having are not consistent with that. Kids who are vaping are not seeing all their friends who vape starting to smoke.”
Juul under attack
This is not the first time that, as in these ads, Juul has been directly blamed for causing the teen vaping “epidemic”. Referring to the popular device in a recent interview, the U.S. Surgeon General said that latest e-cig models containing higher levels of nicotine are to blame for the rising tobacco use among young people.
“We’ve seen tobacco use among youth go down over the last decade, it’s now starting to go back up because of e-cigarettes,” said Dr. Jerome Adams. “It’s a fundamentally different product we have compared to the e-cigarettes of old”.
Hearings about Juul
Additionally, during a two-part hearing which took place last week, a subcommittee of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform’s Economic and Consumer Policy, said it will be examining Juul’s marketing and health claims. The committee’s chairman, Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, D-Ill., said that the aim is to understand what makes Juul “so attractive to teens.”
“In fact, I’ve had one in my hand during this entire statement,” said Krishnamoorthi pointing to a Juul device. “It is my sincere hope that our hearings today and tomorrow will help us better understand Juul’s role in this terrible epidemic and point us toward solutions to prevent teen vaping addiction,” he added.
In response to these claims, a Juul spokesman said that the company shares the committee’s “concerns about youth vaping and welcomes the opportunity to appear and share information about our commitment to eliminate combustible cigarettes and our aggressive, industry leading actions to combat youth usage.”
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