In the Real Cost Commercial above called, “Your Skin” created by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), a teenage girl goes into a corner market to buy a pack of cigarettes. As she goes to the register to pay, she sets down her money and the cashier says, “You need a little more honey.” She then proceeds to rip a piece of her skin off in order to finish paying for the pack of cigarettes. As viewers watch this video, it makes them cringe in disgust as the girl rips the precious skin off of her face just to pay the full price for the pack of cigarettes. This commercial has multiple messages embedded into it creating a sense of curiosity; why would such a young pretty girl want to ruin her youthful face by smoking? Cigarette smoking is a serious consistently growing problem around the world that many partake in trying to end, such as the FDA is attempting in this commercial. By portraying an unrealistic view of a realistic problem the FDA makes a statement on the facts about smoking and how smokers are not only paying for cigarettes with their money, but are also paying for it in many different ways such as wrinkles and premature aging in the skin.

There is no funny business when it comes to buying a product that damages physical health. The tone the teenage girl portrays is very serious as she approaches the register. The sense of a serious setting sets an example as to how serious of a problem smoking is. The girl tells viewers that she does not care about the cost she is paying for the pack of cigarettes by sacrificing her skin, which is only part of the overall cost. Determination is one of the key objectives to the sacrifice she is willing to make for the cigarettes as well. Viewers may have been determined for something once in their lives, and would do anything to accomplish their determination, which makes this scene relatable. Her determination did not stop her from letting her skin be a potential cost for the cigarettes. Viewers then start to feel guilty for this teenage girl who has already beginning a life that is dedicated to an addiction to nicotine. When the scene switches over to the cashiers face she is just as serious as the teenage girl is. She becomes a little uncomfortable when the girl peels her skin off, which is an example of how some viewers may feel about the situation. The goal of the emotional appeal in the commercial is connected to the viewers through the determination of the girl and the guilt that they feel.

By using an average teenage girl for the character, it makes the scene more relatable to the audience the FDA created this commercial for. An article in USA Today states, “The ad will target roughly 10 million American teens who are open to smoking or are already experimenting with cigarettes” (Szabo, Liz). In the commercial, the narrator directly states, “What’s a pack of smokes cost? Your smooth skin”  giving an answer as to why they chose to have the teenage girl peel her skin off as part of the cost for the pack of cigarettes. This is a interesting way of providing a bigger message. The narrator then follows with, “Smoking causes wrinkles and aging prematurely.” Most girls despise the thought of developing wrinkles in their skin because it is a common sign of aging and may make girls feel unattractive. Liz Szabo also wrote, “The ads are based on studies that show teens are often more worried about their appearance today than their long-term risk of cancer” which gives another example as to why they showed the damage smoking will do to your skin, rather than focusing on internal heath instead. This information may bring a question to teenagers choosing to smoke; do I sacrifice my skin this young or feed my growing nicotine addiction? This is what the FDA wants teenagers to consider, their health versus leading to a life of addiction. Any commercial can say, “Smoking is bad for your health, don’t do it” but this one specifies with one health issue that can send a stronger message to young teenagers than just saying that it is bad for you.


Although this commercial is targeted at young teenage girls, it ends with a message to all smokers too. The narrator ends with, “What is cigarettes costing you?” using a rhetorical question to make smokers think about what smoking has done to their body. Each time a person buys a pack of cigarettes, they are sacrificing something in their health just like the girl in the commercial. This defines most issues that smoking can do to someones health with only one example. Very few words are exchanged between the girl and the cashier, but it comes along with a powerful message of the desire for cigarettes and what smokers will do for them. Not only did the FDA want to target teens, they wanted to remind adult smokers of the same question of what it is costing them.

Letting cigarettes take over a person’s life is something that can be stopped if people are properly educated and find dedication in quitting smoking rather than continuing it. Damage to a smokers skin is only one of the endless ways that smoking effects an individual’s physical health. By viewing this commercial, smokers should understand what they are putting their bodies through each time they light a cigarette. Teenage girls who relate to the one in the video should take into consideration the extra cost of smoking after seeing it happen to somebody just like them. This commercial was not meant to entertain, but to inform teenagers what they are risking when smoking cigarettes. Hopefully after teenage smokers, or any smokers, view this commercial the decision to quit smoking comes to mind so they can save their health before nicotine takes over their life.

Works Cited:

“The Real Cost Commercial: Your Skin.” YouTube, uploaded by US Food and Drug Admin, 4 Feb 2014.

Szabo, Liz. “FDA Launches Educational Campaign to Prevent At-risk Kids From Becoming Life-long Smokers.” USA Today, 4 Feb 2014, Accessed 5 Dec 2016.

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The Real Cost Commercial: “Your Skin”