Teens Give Up Their Mental Health for a Pack of Cigarettes in FDA Spot

The ad from FCB New York is the latest in the ongoing 'The Real Cost of Smoking' campaign

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Most anti-smoking PSAs focus on the long-term health consequences, like an increased risk of cancer. The latest effort in the Food and Drug Administration’s ongoing “The Real Cost of Smoking” campaign, developed in partnership with its agency of record FCB New York, examines the immediate mental health consequences.

The 30-second “Auctioneer” spot shows a group of teens bidding for a pack of cigarettes by giving up a good night’s sleep, their ability to concentrate and their peace of mind—all symptoms of anxiety that can be caused by cigarette cravings.

“Gen Z is very willing to engage in conversations about their mental health, so to introduce them to the science about nicotine withdrawal, cigarette cravings and anxiety is likely to resonate with them in a meaningful way,” Kathy Crosby, director of the Center for Tobacco Products’ Office of Health Communication and Education, said in a statement. “We’re really excited about the compelling nature of the work and look forward to continuing the dialogue.”

FCB New York, FDA

Three out of four teens stay smokers

A second spot, “Said Every Smoker Ever,” shows a teen claiming that she only smokes socially and will quit while she’s still young. But as she speaks, her words alternate between other voices, eventually showing a series of adults who got addicted. The ad notes that three out of four teens stay smokers, even if they want to quit.

FCB New York, FDA

“Most young smokers live with the illusion that they can smoke casually and remain immune to the risks of nicotine addiction,” FCB New York executive creative director Gary Resch said in a statement. “This campaign flips that illusion into disillusionment by using the regretful voices of older smokers who were similarly in denial when they themselves were teens.”

The ads are running nationally across TikTok, Snapchat and radio. “The Real Cost” campaign launched in 2014, targeting teens through their preferred platforms to deliver messages about the risks of smoking and vaping.


Agency—FCB New York

Co-chief creative officers: Gabriel Schmitt, Michael Aimette
Evp, executive creative director: Gary Resch
Svp, creative director: Seth Kelly  
Associate creative director: James Meiser
Svp, group strategy director: Scott Karambis
Senior strategic planner: Alison Smith
Evp, managing director: Suzanne Santiago
Svp, group account director: Dimas Adiwiyoto
Account director: Colin Ferguson
Vp, account director: Jared Shell
Management supervisor: Natalie Costa
Account supervisor: Sammie McCormick
Executive producer: Kelly Fagan
Senior producer: Frances Edwards
Director of business affairs: Janice Katz
Associate program director: Nick King
Senior project manager: Samantha Sam
Vp, editorial director: Mary Day
Editorial proofreader: Barbara Norton


Editors: Graham Chisolm, Adam Robinson
Assistant editor: Andrea Norby
Producer: Caylee Banz
Ep, managing director: Lauren Bleiweiss

Production—RESET Content

Director: Yann Demange
Managing director: Dave Morrison
Executive producers: Jen Beitler, Michael Garza
Head of production: John Moran
Producer: James Graves
Production supervisor: Dana Palombi Marcus


CEO/CCO: Joel Simon
Vp, executive producer: Jeff Fiorello


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