The FDA targets teens' mental health worries in anti-smoking push

FCB New York created two new spots ad as part of the 'Real Cost' platform

Published On
Jan 12, 2023

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If you want to get through to teenagers these days, try talking to them about their anxiety. That's the strategy behind a new campaign from the Food and Drug Administration, which is targeting teens in a way that highlights the harmful effects of cigarette smoking on their mental wellness.

The push includes two new PSAs created via FCB New York.

The first spot depicts an auction where young smokers offer up intangible items like “peace of mind” and “ability to concentrate” in exchange for cigarettes. The narrator inquires about the cost of a pack of cigarettes. “Your mental health,” they reply. The ad ends with the statement “Cigarettes can lead to anxiety.”

In the second ad, “Said Every Smoker Ever,” a teen tries to rationalize their use of cigarettes, claiming they’ll stop before they get hooked. Throughout the video, the teen’s voice is replaced by those of older smokers who debunk the younger one’s statements.


The 30-second spots are running nationally across TikTok, Snapchat, and radio. They were directed by Yann Demange at Reset.

The ads are an extension of the FDA’s ongoing “Real Cost” platform—first launched in 2014 to address the issue of smoking among youth. Four years ago, due to the rise in teen vaping, the agency pivoted the focus on the platform to vaping and launched its first vaping education campaign.

However, the new campaign turns the attention back to cigarettes. In 2022, about one of every 6 high school students, 16.5%, reported current use of a tobacco product, according to CDC data. The CDC also states that there is a strong relationship between youth smoking and depression, anxiety, and stress.

“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,” said Kathy Crosby, director of the Center for Tobacco Products’ Office of Health Communication and Education, in a statement. “We’re really excited about the compelling nature of the work and look forward to continuing the dialogue.”

“Most young smokers live with the illusion that they can smoke casually and remain immune to the risks of nicotine addiction,” added Gary Resch, executive creative director at FCB NY. “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.”



Jan 12, 2023
Agency :
Co-Chief Creative Officer :
Gabriel Schmitt
Co-Chief Creative Officer :
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
Production Company :
Reset Content
Director :
Yann Demange
Editorial Company :
Editor :
Graham Chisholm
Editor :
Adam Robinson

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