The Food and Drug Administration and FCB New York are targeting teens who vape in a series of commercials breaking this week that show how far some will go to get a hit of nicotine. 

In one spot in the Addiction Isn’t Pretty series, a girl drops her vape pen in the toilet and, as her friend watches, fishes it out with her bare hand, wipes it on her shirt and takes a puff. Her friend’s horrified face and her defeated look show how ugly addiction can be. 

FCB New York created the spots, which were directed by documentary filmmaker Katina Mercadante. The firm used non-actors and real-life addiction stories to reach teens with an authentic message. 

Addition Isn’t Pretty is the latest take in the FDA’s long-running Real Cost campaign, which has been warning about mouth cancer, brown teeth and other side effects of the nasty habit since 2014.

The FDA has estimated that 587,000 teens have been dissuaded from smoking since the launch of the Real Cost campaign. However, vaping is a new challenge, with 27% of high-school students estimated to use e-cigarettes.

The bathroom episode isn’t the only distasteful story in this campaign. Another scenario in the PSA series of 30- and 15-second spots shows a student athlete who misses the team bus because she was frantically searching her bags and crawling around the locker room looking for her vape pen. There’s obvious disappointment from a friend who is trying to get her to hop on the bus, but the addiction runs too deep.

The campaign was shot in January before COVID-19 lockdowns took effect. It is breaking on social networks such as YouTube, Snapchat and Instagram and channels Adult Swim, Freeform and MTV.

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