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MONDAY, Dec. 11, 2017 (HealthDay News) -- When it comes to kicking the smoking habit, if at first you don't succeed, try, try again, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration says.
To help encourage adult smokers to quit, the FDA is launching a new public education campaign called "Every Try Counts." It will target smokers aged 25 to 54 who've tried to quit smoking in the past year but haven't been successful.
The campaign will feature messages of support that highlight the health benefits of quitting smoking.
The Every Try Counts campaign begins next month in 35 markets nationwide and will include print, digital, radio and billboard ads. The FDA plans to focus its ads in and around retail locations, such as gas stations and convenience stores -- places that not only sell cigarettes but are favorite targets of cigarette advertising.
As part of the campaign, the FDA has teamed up with the U.S. National Cancer Institute to create a website that will provide resources and tools to help smokers quit.
"Cigarette smoking remains the leading cause of preventable disease and death in the U.S.," Dr. Jerome Adams, the U.S. Surgeon General, said in an FDA news release. "Sustained and comprehensive efforts, including the FDA's Every Try Counts campaign, are critical to encouraging more Americans to quit smoking and preventing the harms associated with cigarette use."
FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb said the new campaign "encourages smokers to rethink their next pack of cigarettes at the most critical of places -- the point of sale."
Gottlieb pointed out that "tobacco companies have long used advertisements at convenience stores and gas stations to promote their products, and we plan to use that same space to embolden smokers to quit instead."
Cigarette smoking causes about 480,000 deaths in the United States each year. Despite declining smoking rates among adults, 15 percent of American adults (36.5 million) were cigarette smokers in 2015. Of those, more than 22 million said they'd like to quit, according to the FDA.
However, though more than 55 percent of adult smokers tried to quit in 2015, the agency said that only about 7 percent were successful.
Mitch Zeller directs the FDA's Center for Tobacco Products. "Tobacco advertising in retail environments can generate a strong urge to smoke, prompting a relapse among those attempting to quit," he said in the news release.
"This campaign offers smokers motivational messages in those environments with the intention to build confidence and instill the belief within each smoker that they are ready to try quitting again," Zeller explained.
"We want smokers to feel good about each attempt to quit because it is getting them closer to one day leading a healthier life free from cigarettes, reducing their risk of tobacco-related death and disease," he added.
The FDA's aim "is to render cigarettes minimally or non-addictive, while encouraging the development of potentially less harmful tobacco products for adults who still want or need access to nicotine," Gottlieb said. "At the same time, we're also taking new steps to improve access and use of FDA-approved medicinal nicotine products to help smokers quit."
-- Robert Preidt
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SOURCE: U.S. Food and Drug Administration, news release, Dec. 11, 2017