FDA Unveils Its Latest Weapon in Fighting the Teen Vaping Epidemic: Ads in High School Bathrooms

September 19, 2018, 10:19 PM UTC

Teen vaping is on the rise, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is trying a new tactic in the war on e-cigarettes: high school bathroom advertisements.

As part of the FDA’s Youth Tobacco Prevention Plan, the newly expanded campaign aims to educate the nearly 11 million kids and teens ages 12 to 17 who have already used or are open to trying e-cigarettes and flavored tobacco products. The agency first launched its “The Real Cost” campaign in 2014, and this 2018 expansion of that earlier initiative is what the FDA calls a “full-scale e-cigarette prevention campaign.” The preventative education campaign will reach young people through social media and in-school ads nationwide. “The Real Cost” is a nearly $60 million effort funded by fees collected from the tobacco industry.

Earlier this month, the FDA said that teen vaping had reached “epidemic proportions,” and that the agency would take “historic action” against companies such as Juul, which produce e-cigarettes and flavored tobacco products that are widely believed to be the cause of so much teen e-cig use.

In April, a cohort of U.S. senators specifically named Juul and its dangers in letters to the company and the FDA, in which the congressional leaders wrote that Juul and its flavored pods are “undermining our nation’s efforts to reduce tobacco use among youth and putting an entire new generation of children at risk of nicotine addiction and other health consequences.” Each Juul pod contains roughly 200 puffs, as much nicotine as a pack of cigarettes.

A recent study also found that in addition to tobacco consumption, one in 11 teens have vaped marijuana using e-cigarettes.