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Getting a Health Message to Teenagers

Posted under Dental Health Tips on April 1st, 2014 | No Comments

It is always a passion of mine to create a family friendly environment, hence the partnership between Dr. Ann (my wife) and I work well. Dr. Ann focuses on children and I focus on adults.  Teenagers on the other hand is always a challenge.  They think they know it all, and maybe they do. It is always difficult getting a message across to teens, especially it seems, when it concerns health issues. With this in mind, I found the following information very helpful.

United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are planning to introduce a public education campaign, nationally directed at teens between 12 and 17 years of age. The message will focus on oral, cosmetic and the actual consequences, or “real cost” to their health related to using tobacco products.

Tobacco issues and the harm it can cause must be presented to teens in an educational and personally relevant manner. According to the FDA, when announcing their “The Real Cost campaign” at the National Press Club, this poses a challenge as many teenagers have the self-belief that they will not become addicted to the substance.

This is further enhanced, by the perception that the long-term negative health consequences of tobacco smoking, do not directly apply to them!

The campaign television advertising will be introduced on February 11, 2015 with cigarettes issues. It will be extended online and to offline, radio, print and various social media applications, encompassing other tobacco products, including smokeless, for a minimum of one year.

However, there are certain negative consequences of tobacco usage that are recognized by teenagers, for example cosmetic health. This can apply to appearance defects, such as a damaged skin and loss of teeth. Emphasizing these particular teen concerns is regarded as an effective method towards the reduction of tobacco usage by teens.

Messages with impacting emphasis on factors of importance to the teens of today will include how smoking is the cause of tooth loss through gum disease and that even causal, infrequent usage of tobacco harm their teeth. This direct approach will highlight the fact of “teens smiles”, whereby smiling at someone could be a display of yellowing, stained teeth and an attack of bad breath on the receiver.

This campaign will target about 10 million teens that are at risk from the harmful effects of using tobacco.  There is a strong awareness among the authorities that early intervention is critical, created by research showing that on 9 out of 10 regular smokers, experience their first cigarette by 17 years of age!

“The Real Cost campaign” is designed towards teenagers rethinking their relationship with any tobacco products.

The Department of Health and Human Services, parent agency of the FDA, view this campaign” as a highly significant investment in preventative measures regarding tobacco smoking and associated products. There is a budgeted $115 million, financed by industry user fees. This will be utilized for media visibility in over 200 markets, including research and creative development.

The FDA is authorized by the Tobacco Control Act to collect these fees from manufacturers and importers of tobacco products.

The report of Dr. Luther Terry in 1964 related to smoking and health has now been updated by this, the U.S. Surgeon General’s 50th anniversary review of tobacco science.  It updates evidence regarding the potential influences on oral health from tobacco use, as well as the “expanding use of multiple products or the replacement of conventional combustible cigarettes with other nicotine delivery systems.”

I hope you find the information helpful and will pass it along.  Don’t forget new patients are always welcome.  We believe in strong partnership with parents when it comes to children’s dental treatment.  See you in two weeks for my next blog.