Nov. 19 1998
Washington, DC - An overwhelming majority of the American public believes that funds the states receive from any settlement between the state Attorneys General and the tobacco industry should be used to reduce tobacco use among children, according to results of a national telephone poll released today by the CAMPAIGN FOR TOBACCO-FREE KIDS. In addition, most Americans believe it is important for the new Congress to pass comprehensive legislation to implement additional tobacco control measures not included in the settlement. Eighty-four percent of those surveyed said they favor spending money their state receives from a tobacco settlement on efforts to reduce tobacco use among kids, including 69 percent who "strongly favor" spending money for this purpose. Not only do Americans favor spending some of the money on tobacco prevention, they favor using a significant amount for that purpose. Sixty-five percent of those surveyed said that at least half of the money that goes to their state should be spent on efforts to reduce smoking among kids. In similar pre-election polling, at least 79 percent of the registered likely voters in each of 18 states said that roughly half or more of all the settlement payments should be used to reduce smoking among kids. "The recently announced tobacco settlement cannot be a productive tobacco control measure unless a substantial portion of the payments to the states are committed to new or expanded efforts to reduce tobacco use," said Bill Novelli, CAMPAIGN president. "Almost 90 percent of all smokers begin at or before the age of 18, and smoking among high school seniors is at a 19-year high. If states fail to use funds from the settlement for effective public health programs, they will miss an important opportunity to protect their children and help adults quit a deadly habit." The public also continues to believe Congress should pass comprehensive tobacco legislation to implement tobacco control measures that are not included in the settlement. Seventy-five percent of those polled said it is important that the new Congress pass comprehensive tobacco legislation that gives FDA full authority over tobacco products, enacts strong protections against secondhand smoke, increases tobacco prices to discourage kids from smoking, and holds the tobacco industry more directly accountable for youth smoking. "The tobacco industry must understand, as the American public does, that this settlement is only one step toward reducing the irreparable harm that the industry has caused millions of Americans," said CAMPAIGN Executive Vice President and General Counsel Matthew L. Myers. "It is now the responsibility of Congress to pass legislation that produces a comprehensive tobacco control policy, including strengthening the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's authority to fully regulate tobacco and reduce tobacco use among kids." Survey respondents were asked whether they favored spending the money on a variety of initiatives, including: reducing tobacco use among kids; building roads, bridges and other infrastructure in the state; providing tax relief for citizens of the state; building more schools and hiring more teachers; and providing health insurance for uninsured people in the state. The level of support for spending the money on tobacco prevention was substantially higher than for any other purpose. The national telephone survey of 1,008 respondents was conducted by Market Facts' TeleNation between November 13-16. It was commissioned by the CAMPAIGN and has a margin of error of +/- 3.0 percentage points. The results from the 18 individual state surveys were released on November 13 and are available on the CAMPAIGN's web site: www.tobaccofreekids.org (click on "1998 Tobacco Settlement"). The Washington, DC-based CAMPAIGN FOR TOBACCO FREE KIDS is the largest initiative ever undertaken to decrease youth tobacco use in the United States.