The 21-year-old nonprofit best known for its bold anti-smoking ads is rising to meet the vaping crisis. Truth Initiative’s “Tested on Humans” campaign last summer (in which anthropomorphized animals expressed concern that humans are being used as guinea pigs to test the effects of vaping) generated more than 367 million video views.
The organization is finding success with more interactive efforts as well. Its free, text-based “This is Quitting” program, which launched in early 2019, allows users (who sign up simply by texting “DITCHJUUL” to 88709) to receive daily texts with tips tailored to their age and the particular device they’re trying to break up with. According to data published in Nicotine & Tobacco Research, more than 60% of program participants report having decreased e-cigarette usage within two weeks, and to date more than 136,000 vapers have enrolled or signed up to quit. But for CEO Robin Koval, the most important 2019 metric is 3.7—that’s the current percentage of teens who smoke in the U.S. That number is down from 23% when Truth launched in 1999, a promising sign that the organization may be able to influence the 28% of high schoolers vaping today. “We’ve won before,” Koval says. “And we are ready to win again.”
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A version of this article appeared in the March/April 2020 issue of Fast Company magazine.