The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (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, ages 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 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 System1 indicate that:
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.
About 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.
19.9% of AI/AN high school students reported using electronic vapor products frequently (on 20 or more days in the past 30 days) compared with 10.7% of high school students overall.
Online Outreach Program
The “Next Legends” campaign will reach AI/AN teens where they spend much of their time. Digital video advertisements will be placed on social media sites such as Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok, as well as streaming and gaming platforms such as YouTube and Twitch. In addition to the campaign’s digital video and social media presence, 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 very 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.