The Real Cost


Every day, more than 400 youth under 18 years of age become daily cigarette smokers despite decades of research documenting the negative health effects of tobacco use.

The FDA’s “The Real Cost” (TRC) campaign uses media messages to prevent youth who are open to trying or are actively experimenting with tobacco from trying it and to reduce the number of youth who move from experimenting with tobacco to regular use.


FDA launched TRC in 2014 as a national, multimedia campaign. Platforms include TV, radio, print, web, social media, and out-of-home sites. The campaign is intended to reach nearly 10 million youth ages 12-17 who are open to trying, or already actively experimenting with tobacco.

With KDHRC’s support, FDA and its partner agencies developed content that resonates with teens. KDHRC’s role on TRC is to ensure scientific accuracy and best practices in science throughout the content development and approval processes.

In addition to working on campaign content, KDHRC monitors emerging research relevant to the campaign and briefs all agencies of new findings.


A nationwide study of TRC’s impact shows that exposure to “The Real Cost” from 2014-2016 was associated with a 30% decrease in the risk of smoking initiation. That translates into 350,000 U.S. youth who did not start smoking because they saw a Real Cost message.


To learn more about “The Real Cost” campaign, click here.


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