FDA Issues Pair of Proposals for $600 Million Combined Anti-Smoking Push

Agency Seeks Two Shops to Curb Teen Smoking

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The Food and Drug Administration has issued two requests for proposals for an integrated anti-smoking campaign that targeting teens. The combined budget is up to $600 million over the course of five years.

The initiative is one of the first under the FDA's Center for Tobacco Products and Tobacco Control Act, which "grants the FDA the authority to regulate the manufacture, distribution and marketing of tobacco product." President Obama signed the bill into law in 2009, but the FDA, working with the National Institutes of Health, only just launched its first large-scale, national tobacco-related study under the Act last month.

The review also comes as the major tobacco companies and marketing organizations in D.C. continue to appeal the FDA's graphic labeling initiative for 2012, which many are calling the most extreme marketing regulation in U.S. history. And the timing is no coincidence, as the document stated that "the effort supports FDA's execution of its authority for graphic health warnings on cigarette packages and ads."

The major task order for the first RFP, as part of a national public education initiative with a budget of up to $390 million, is to spearhead a campaign to "prevent tobacco use among teens aged 13-17." The scope includes advertising, new media, paid media, social media, earned media, partnership and community-level strategies.

Shedding some light on the niche targeting objective, the document stated: "Evidence from controlled field experiments and population studies shows that mass media campaigns designed to discourage tobacco use can change youth attitudes about tobacco use and curb smoking initiation."

In a few places, the RFP also refers to the prevalence of smoking among teens: "Tobacco use is almost always initiated and established during adolescence. For example, more than 80% of adult smokers began smoking before 18 years of age (CDC, 2011)."

The second RFP, a solicitation for agencies that qualify as small businesses, has a budget ceiling of $210 million. The objective is to reduce tobacco use among a "minority youth" audience of intermittent smokers, in the same 13-to-7-year-old age range.

The document lists audiences that would be a focus, including minority racial and ethnic groups; gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transsexual individuals; people with disabilities, including mental illness; people within the military, veterans, and their families; pregnant women; people living in rural areas; and people with low socioeconomic status.

According to the RFP, proposals are due Nov. 23.

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