FDA ad campaign hopes to curb teen smoking

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CHIPPEWA FALLS, Wis. (WEAU) - The Food and Drug Administration is spending $115 million on an anti-smoking campaign, through fees collected from tobacco companies, that targets teens by showing them the real cost, including yellow teeth and wrinkled skin.

“Statistics say 90 percent of people that smoke now as adults started before they were 18. Anything that's going to create awareness and education for that is a good thing,” Chippewa Falls High School Health teacher Mike Thompson said.

The Chippewa Falls school district has a program for fifth graders to teach other elementary students the risks of smoking by using puppets.

“I watched the other older kids and it looked fun and I want to help kids to learn not to smoke too,” fifth-grader Alyssa Sykora said.

Teens at Chi Hi said friends and family have the biggest impact on whether they'll smoke.

“If your friends do it, they can persuade you to do it easily and if your family does it, you might not think it's as bad to do,” senior Lydia Gehrig said.

They said the ads alone won't solve the problem.

“It could have an impact on them, seeing that but I think mostly it would be people around them,” senior David Arneberg said.

“Whether they want to put themselves at risk and spend all that money and hurt their health and that's their decision and you can't change it for them,” senior Brenna Roshelle said.

“You also have to address it from all aspects. Even the school, we're one piece of that. We need to do some changes in our community as well to make a difference. Access to tobacco products, they do compliance checks. All of that. It takes the whole community to work together to make a difference on teen smoking,” Chippewa Falls schools alcohol tobacco and other drug prevention director Jennifer Griggs-Andress said.

The Real Cost campaign is funded through fees collected from tobacco companies.

Another way the state is trying to keep kids from smoking that has been a success is through the Wisconsin wins campaign, aimed to decrease access through compliance checks at stores.

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