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FDA Anti-Smoking Campaign Targets Minority Teens

DENVER (CBS4)- The Food and Drug Administration announced a new anti-smoking campaign on Tuesday, one that specifically targets minority teenagers.

The ads use hip-hop to encourage the young people to kick the habit or never get started.

The new national campaign is called Fresh Empire and the focus is multicultural youth ages 12 to 17.

"Because research shows that teens who identify with hip hop are at a higher risk of using tobacco," said Mitch Zeller Director of FDA's Center for Tobacco Products.

"Unfortunately, the health burdens of tobacco use disproportionately affect minority teens particularly African American and Hispanic youth," said Jonca Bull, M.D., the FDA's Assistant Commissioner for Minority Health. "The 'Fresh Empire' campaign will help reach teens at a key point in their lives when experimenting with smoking can lead to addiction."

According to the FDA, the ads feature community influencers who reinforce that tobacco use is not a part of the hip-hop lifestyle.

FDA National Tobacco education campion targeting multicultural youth_frame_11978
The Fresh Empire anti-smoking campaign (credit: FDA)

Amy Lukowski, Clinical Director of the Colorado Quitline operated by National Jewish Health, said of the campaign, "The message is empowerment. I think it's incredible. To me it's fresh. It speaks to the youth. It speaks to African Americans. We have an important message to deliver that tobacco kills. And we need to do that in a way that resonates with our populations."

According to the FDA, approximately 4.4 million minority youth are open to smoking or are already experimenting with tobacco. The message of Fresh Empire is straightforward. "Keep it fresh. Live tobacco free."

The $128 million campaign launches next week and is funded by tobacco user fees. The ads will air nationally for the first time in conjunction with the 2015 BET hip-hop awards on October 13.

Kathy Walsh is CBS4's Weekend Anchor and Health Specialist. She has been with CBS4 for more than 30 years. She is always open to story ideas. Follow Kathy on Twitter @WalshCBS4.

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