The Real Cost – FDA’s Youth Tobacco Prevention Campaign: What’s Important and What’s Innovative

Kathleen Crosby keynote youth tobacco prevention

Kathleen Crosby

Director, Health Communication and Education FDA Center for Tobacco Products


Listen to an interview with Kathleen Crosby

MCHES® – 1.75 | ICHWC – 1.75 | AAFP – 1.75

FDA’s “The Real Cost” campaign has taken a page out of Madison Avenue’s playbook, using the power of persuasive advertising toward improving public health by convincing at-risk teens to not use tobacco. The first-of-its-kind federal campaign, launched by FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products (CTP) in 2014 with the goal of educating at-risk teens about the harmful effects of cigarette smoking, has expanded to address the “cost-free” mentality among youth about other tobacco products, including e-cigarettes. “The Real Cost” relies on best practices in communication, marketing, and social science to capture teens’ attention and change their behaviors, using fresh portrayals on various advertising platforms of the health and addiction risks of tobacco products. Rigorous evaluation points to significant success already from this public health education campaign, which represents an important component of CTP’s comprehensive regulatory strategy.

Presenter Bio

Kathleen Crosby is currently Director of the Office of Health Communication and Education at the FDA Center for Tobacco Products (CTP). The office is responsible for conducting public education, stakeholder outreach, and regulatory communication programs designed to ensure FDA’s success in implementing the Tobacco Control Act. These efforts include developing breakthrough communication strategies to reduce youth tobacco use, helping current tobacco users quit, and building stakeholder understanding of and compliance with FDA tobacco product regulations.

Since joining CTP in February 2011, Ms. Crosby has led the development and implementation of multiple public education campaigns targeting at-risk and underserved populations, including FDA’s first-ever national youth tobacco prevention campaign, “The Real Cost.” Launched in early 2014, the award-winning campaign has prevented an estimated 350,000 youth ages 11-18 from smoking, to date. Ms. Crosby also guides CTP’s complex regulatory communications framework responsible for informing industry, academia, public health organizations, and the public about FDA actions to reduce the burden of tobacco use in the United States.

Ms. Crosby’s career spans 20 years of senior-level marketing and advertising experience working on large-scale multimedia campaigns and education programs for major national brands in both the private and non-profit sectors. Before beginning at CTP, Ms. Crosby was Senior Vice President, Group Campaign Director of the Washington office of the Ad Council, where she successfully managed day-to-day operations. In her nine years at the Ad Council, she created integrated communication programs that have proven to inspire attitudinal and behavioral change for America’s most pressing social issues. One of Ms. Crosby’s leadership roles at the Ad Council was as Campaign Director for 17 United States government agencies, including the Departments of Health and Human Services, Transportation, Homeland Security, Energy, Defense, Agriculture, and Justice. Previously, while serving as Vice President of Strategic Planning at Arnold Worldwide, Ms. Crosby oversaw the strategic development of the Legacy Foundation’s “Truth” campaign, which is widely regarded as one of the most potent and successful tobacco prevention campaigns ever conducted in the United States.

Ms. Crosby received a BA degree from University of Colorado in Political Science with a minor in Spanish.