‘The Real Cost’ of your vaping habits

Julie Dannevig and Corinne Flaherty

The Real Cost campaign, originally launched in 2014 by the FDA’s Center for Tobacco products, recently released the newest leg of their campaign. With the increasing popularity of e-cigarette use in recent years, the U.S. has seen a growing number of teens becoming addicted to these dangerous tobacco products. This epidemic is present both nationally and locally, affecting WHS teens to the extent of administrative intervention.   

The Real Cost campaign is looking to challenge this epidemic by releasing advertisements that reveal, “real facts, so you can make your own decision,” according to therealcost.gov.

The new national campaign highlights the risks that are associated with vaping by targeting its advertisements to 10.7 million adolescents on various social media platforms, such as Instagram and Facebook.

With the goal of deterring minors from experimenting with these harmful drugs, the advertisements demonstrate the consequences of vaping by featuring graphic images of young teens with visible facial defects. Alongside the images, captions state that the defects are not caused by “a virus, infection or parasite.” Instead, the defects are a result of a vaping addiction.

“Seeing those pictures makes me not want to do those drugs even more because of all the scars and the weird facial stuff that those people have,” said an anonymous WHS senior. “[but] I don’t think that it will stop people who are already [vaping] from continuing.”

Photo by HHS.gov
An advertisement from The Real Cost.

Another anonymous WHS senior said: “I’d rather hear a personal story than just an ad or commercial telling me not to do something. The Real Cost campaign doesn’t really have any effect on me.”

WHS health teacher Susan Kolesar explained she doesn’t know if this campaign has any effect on teens. She believes in order to prevent vaping, it’s about educating parents and the younger generation on the harmful effects before they face addiction.

However, according to a study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, the Real Cost campaign has reduced tobacco-related mortality in youth.

While statistically the Real Cost campaign has been successful in dissuading underage use of e-cigarettes, the graphic advertisements do not deter many teens from continuing to vape.