A new national awareness campaign is using a mix of YouTube videos and social media platforms to encourage all teens to be the first generation to end tobacco use in America for good.
Independent non-profit Legacy introduced the “Finish It” campaign to try and save millions of young lives from the dangers of tobacco addiction, said Nancy Brown, CEO of the American Heart Association and a Legacy board member since June 2013.
“We congratulate Legacy for this bold new campaign and its goal of creating the first tobacco-free generation,” Brown said. “Most of the nation’s smokers took up the habit while they were in their teens. To hook these new customers to a lifetime of smoking, the tobacco industry is always finding new ways to aggressively market its products to teenagers.”
Legacy, which was created after the landmark 1998 settlement between the tobacco industry and attorneys general in 46 states, said the number of teens who smoke has fallen from 23 percent in 2000 to just 9 percent this year.
The AHA has long advocated for smoke-free public places and pushed for higher taxes on tobacco products to help discourage their use. “Finish It” also aligns with the American Heart Association’s goal of reducing heart disease and stroke deaths by 20 percent, while improving the cardiovascular health of all Americans by 20 percent, by the year 2020.
“Finish It” builds on the success of Legacy’s earlier “Truth” campaign. First introduced in 2000, “Truth” ads used shock value to underscore the dangers of tobacco use and to show how tobacco manufacturers used targeted marketing campaigns to lure younger smokers.
A study conducted in 2009 by the American Journal of Preventive Medicine found that the “Truth” campaign was directly responsible for preventing 450,000 teenagers from starting to smoke between 2000 and 2004.