First Poll Since Liggett Settlement Shows Anger at Tobacco Industry Skyrocketing

Nearly Three-Quarters of Americans Now Want Congress to Hold Hearings,and FDA to Regulate Tobacco Marketing

Mar. 27 1997

Washington, DC - A nationwide poll taken just after the Liggett Group settlement reveals that more Americans now believe tobacco companies are deliberately marketing to children, and that tough action -- including FDA regulation -- should be taken against the industry. Americans also overwhelmingly feel that Congress should hold hearings to investigate the tobacco industry. The poll, which was commissioned by the CAMPAIGN FOR TOBACCO-FREE KIDS and released today, shows that 69 percent of Americans believe that the tobacco companies deliberately market their products to kids - up from 54 percent in a June 1996 poll. Seventy-three percent of respondents say that tobacco is an addictive drug that should be regulated - up from 65 percent in the earlier poll. And 70 percent agree that the FDA should have the authority to regulate the sale and marketing of tobacco products. On March 20, the Liggett Group tobacco company announced an agreement to settle lawsuits with 22 states seeking to recoup the cost of treating tobacco-related diseases. As part of the settlement, Liggett broke ranks with the rest of the tobacco industry in admitting that tobacco companies target children in their marketing, that tobacco is addictive, and that tobacco causes cancer and other diseases. Liggett also agreed to release hundreds of sensitive industry documents that could prove damaging to the other tobacco companies. "The anger with the deceptions of the tobacco industry is hitting record levels," CAMPAIGN President Bill Novelli said. "Americans clearly feel that the tobacco companies have conspired to lie to the public about everything from marketing to children to claiming tobacco is not addictive." Novelli continued, "The public was already fed up with the tobacco industry before the Liggett settlement; now they’re ready to take the gloves off. Americans overwhelmingly think that the time has come for the tobacco companies to be investigated, regulated, and even prosecuted." The poll shows that 77 percent of Americans believe the tobacco industry lies about the health effects of tobacco, 81 percent believe it lies about the addictive nature of tobacco, and 75 percent believe it lies about the marketing of tobacco products to kids. Of the people surveyed, 70 percent said they had seen, heard, or read something about the Liggett settlement. "With the alarming rise in tobacco use among young people, every effort must be made to eradicate all tobacco marketing targeted to youth, and hold the tobacco companies responsible for this unacceptable behavior," said Timothy J. Dyer, executive director of the National Association of Secondary School Principals. "We urge Congress and the American people to take action and ensure the healthy futures of all of our young people." "These results reveal that the tobacco companies have lost all credibility with the American people," Novelli said. "But it doesn’t stop there. The public clearly wants action to stop the tobacco conspiracy and protect children from cigarette marketing. There is tremendous support for the FDA rule to stop tobacco marketing to kids, and for Congressional action to call the tobacco companies on their deceptions." Seventy-three percent of those polled agreed that the U.S. Congress should hold hearings on whether the tobacco companies have lied about the health effects of tobacco and their marketing of tobacco products to kids. Seventy-five percent feel that politicians who accept contributions from tobacco companies are less likely to take steps to protect the health of children - up from only 50 percent in the June poll. "People feel strongly that it’s time for Congress to step up to the plate and investigate the lies of the tobacco companies," Novelli said. "Many Americans probably remember the scene three years ago when the top cigarette company executives swore - under oath - before Congress that tobacco is not addictive." The survey also found that 66 percent of the people agree that tobacco company executives should be criminally prosecuted for their lying about the health effects of tobacco. The random telephone survey of 1,000 people, evenly split between men and women from across the nation, was conducted by TELENATION from March 21 to March 23. The survey has a margin of error of +/- 3.1 percentage points. The CAMPAIGN FOR TOBACCO-FREE KIDS is the largest initiative ever undertaken to decrease youth tobacco use in the United States. Its mandate is to focus the nation’s attention and action on keeping tobacco marketing from seducing children, and making tobacco less accessible to kids. The CAMPAIGN’S 100-plus member organizations include the National Association of Secondary School Principals, American Medical Association, American Heart Association, American Lung Association, American Cancer Society, American Academy of Pediatrics, National Association of Elementary School Principals and National PTA. # # # Note to editors: A one-page summary of the findings follows: PUBLIC OPINIONS ON TOBACCO – NATIONAL SURVEY (Data Collected March 21-23, 1997) Changes in public attitudes since June of 1996: Percent who agree somewhat or strongly that June 1996 March 1997 The tobacco companies deliberately market cigarettes to underage kids 54% 69% Politicians who accept contributions from tobacco companies are less likely to take steps to protect the health of children 50% 75% Tobacco is an addictive drug that should be regulated like other drugs 65% 73% Percent who say the tobacco industry lies about: • The health effects of tobacco: 77% • The addictive nature of tobacco: 81% • The marketing of tobacco products to teens: 75% Percent who agree strongly or somewhat that: The FDA should have authority to regulate the sale and marketing of tobacco products: 70% The U.S. Congress should hold hearings about whether the tobacco companies have lied about the health effects of tobacco and their marketing of tobacco products to kids: 73% State legislatures should hold such hearings: 69% The tobacco companies should have to pay the government health care costs that result from smoking: 63% Tobacco company executives should be criminally prosecuted for lying about the health effects of tobacco: 66% The tobacco companies have internal documents that prove they knew the harmful effects of tobacco: 84% The tobacco companies have internal documents that prove they intentionally market their products to kids: 64% Who is to blame for the sale and marketing of tobacco products to teens? Tobacco Companies Very Much to Blame, 55%; Somewhat to Blame, 32%; Not at all to Blame, 12% Advertising Agencies Very Much to Blame, 43%; Somewhat to Blame, 45%; Not at all to Blame, 12% Media Talking Ads Very Much to Blame, 33%; Somewhat to Blame, 50%; Not at all to Blame, 17% Retailers Very Much to Blame, 28%; Somewhat to Blame, 49%; Not at all to Blame, 23% 70 percent of those surveyed claim to have seen, heard, or read something about the Liggett settlement.

 

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