Jun. 27 2013
WASHINGTON, DC – Four years after passage of a landmark law giving the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) the power to regulate tobacco products, American voters strongly support the law and want the FDA to extend its authority to all tobacco products, including cigars and electronic cigarettes, according to an online poll conducted by the Mellman Group for the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. They strongly oppose efforts in Congress to prevent FDA from regulating cigars.
Key findings of the poll include:
The Mellman Group conducted the nationally representative online survey of 1,002 registered likely voters designed to simulate the likely November 2014 general electorate. Interviews were conducted June 14-18, 2013.
The 2009 law directed the FDA to immediately regulate cigarettes, smokeless tobacco and roll-your-own tobacco. It authorized the FDA to extend its authority to all other tobacco products, including cigars and e-cigarettes. The FDA stated its intention to do so in December 2010, but has yet to act. In recent years, tobacco companies have introduced a variety of cheap flavored cigars and other novel tobacco products that remain unregulated and clearly appeal to children.
In the meantime, some members of Congress have introduced legislation to exempt certain cigars from FDA regulation. Public health advocates have opposed the legislation, arguing that all tobacco products are harmful and should be subject to science-based regulation to protect public health.
Health advocates have also expressed concerns that some smaller, cheaper, sweet-flavored cigars that appeal to kids could also escape regulation under the legislation, and that any cigar exemption would invite tobacco companies to modify their products to avoid regulation. Tobacco companies have engaged in such manipulation before, for example introducing candy and fruit-flavored cigars to evade a ban on similarly-flavored cigarettes and increasing the weight of cigars to evade higher taxes on smaller cigars. (According to one recent report, by Bloomberg News, one tobacco company increased the weight of its cigars by adding a clay material used in kitty litter.
“These poll results show that voters understand all tobacco products, including cigars, are harmful and should be regulated by the FDA to protect our children and the nation’s health,” said Matthew L. Myers, President of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. “The public wants the scientists at the FDA – not Congress, and certainly not the tobacco companies – to determine how best to regulate tobacco products to reduce the death and disease they cause. It is critical that FDA act quickly to regulate all tobacco products and that Congress not diminish the agency’s authority.”
The poll also found that voters strongly support specific provisions of the 2009 law, as well as potential actions the FDA might take to reduce tobacco use:
Full results of the poll, including a summary from the pollster and an annotated questionnaire, can be found here or in the sidebar on the right. The margin of error for the full survey is +/- 3.1 percentage points at the 95% level of confidence. The margin of error is larger for subgroups. The poll was funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.