FDA Launches Campaign Aimed at Preventing E-Cigarette Use Among American Indian/Alaska Native Youth
Next Legends Campaign Aims to Educate Native American Youth About Harms of Vaping Through Culturally Specific Ads
The FDA recently announced the launch of the "Next Legends" Youth E-cigarette Prevention Campaign as part of the agency's ongoing efforts to protect youth from the dangers of tobacco use. The campaign will educate American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) youth, aged 12 to 17, about the harms of vaping through unique branding and tailored messaging created to inspire a new generation to live Native strong and vape-free.
There are approximately 400,000 Native teens in the United States, and more than one-half of them are at-risk of using tobacco products, including e-cigarettes. Studies show that Native youth are more susceptible to e-cigarette use than their non-Native peers, and they demonstrate disproportionately high experimentation and current use of e-cigarettes.
Data from the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System indicate the following:
• AI/AN youth are more likely to use e-cigarettes and almost twice as likely to be frequent users of e-cigarettes than high school students overall;
• 47.3% of AI/AN high school students reported past 30-day use of "electronic vapor products" including e-cigarettes compared with 32.7% of high school students overall; and
• 19.9% of AI/AN high school students reported using electronic vapor products frequently (on 20 or more days in the last 30 days) compared with 10.7% of high school students overall.
"The Next Legends campaign is an important and creative way to educate Native youth about the harms of vaping," says Michele Mital, acting director of the FDA's Center for Tobacco Products. "E-cigarettes are the most used tobacco product among youth, and they pose serious health risks if used during adolescence, when the brain is still developing. Next Legends builds on the success of previous youth e-cigarette prevention campaigns while also addressing health disparities among Native Americans and Alaska Natives associated with tobacco use. Communicating with Native youth through culturally aligned messages will help these youth make informed decisions about healthy behavior, including being vape-free."
The "Next Legends" campaign will reach AI/AN teens where they spend much of their time—online. Digital video advertisements will be placed on social media sites such as Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok, and streaming and gaming platforms such as YouTube and Twitch. In addition to the campaign's digital video and social media presence, out-of-home billboards, radio, and TV (in Alaska) will also be used to help spread the public health messages to Native youth. The ads feature members of the AI/AN community and messaging focused on the negative health consequences and addiction risks of using e-cigarettes, the dangerous mix of chemicals and metals found in them, and how vaping can negatively affect aspects of life that are important to the community.
In consultation with AI/AN community members and other experts in Native culture, media, and public health research, the FDA conducted robust research to develop effective messaging to reach Native youth. Strategies included extensive research and analysis to identify messaging needs and unique cultural considerations for commercial tobacco use prevention efforts, focus groups with AI/AN youth from across regions of the United States, and testing of video ads through an online survey with a large sample of Native youth. To ensure cultural relevancy for this audience, the FDA's media contractor, Rescue Agency, partnered with G+G Advertising, a Native-owned advertising agency with more than 20 years' experience working with AI/AN tribes and communities.
The FDA's tobacco prevention campaigns are critical to its public health mission. In addition to public education campaigns, the agency protects youth from the harms of vaping through regulation, scientific review of products, and taking enforcement actions against tobacco manufacturers, retailers, importers, and distributors, when needed. The FDA restricts youth access to tobacco products by, for example, requiring retailers to check ID prior to sale and not sell to anyone under the age of 21.