Apr. 24 2007
Washington, DC — A new national poll of registered voters finds that 77 percent of American voters support Congress passing a bill to give the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) the authority to regulate tobacco products. The poll was conducted by Public Opinion Strategies and the Mellman Group on behalf of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.
FDA regulation of tobacco is supported across political lines, geographic regions and even by a majority of smokers. The poll found the legislation is supported by:
- Strong majorities of Republicans (76 percent), Democrats (80 percent) and Independents (69 percent);
- Voters in the Northeast (85 percent), Midwest (79 percent), South (73 percent) and West (71 percent); and
- Both smokers (70 percent) and non-smokers (78 percent).
Identical, bipartisan bills granting the FDA authority over tobacco products have been introduced in both the U.S. Senate and House (S. 625/ H.R. 1108). Sponsors are U.S. Senators Edward Kennedy (D-MA) and John Cornyn (R-TX) and U.S. Representatives Henry Waxman (D-CA) and Tom Davis (R-VA).
"Voters across the country overwhelmingly support FDA regulation of tobacco products to protect kids from tobacco addiction and save lives," said Matthew L. Myers, President of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. "There are few issues before Congress on which you'd find such strong consensus across regions and across party lines. Americans agree that it's time for Congress to address the nation's number one preventable cause of death and end the deadly status quo that allows tobacco companies to continue to target our children and mislead the public."
Among other things, the legislation would crack down on tobacco marketing and sales to kids; require that tobacco companies disclose the contents of tobacco products and remove harmful ingredients; stop tobacco companies from misleading the public about health risks of their products; and require larger, more effective health warnings on cigarette packs.
The poll shows even stronger voter support regarding the specific actions the FDA could take to regulate tobacco products:
- 94 percent support restricting tobacco sales to children by requiring ID checks for younger buyers and fining retailers who sell tobacco to minors.
- 85 percent support restricting tobacco marketing aimed at children such as limiting advertising in magazines with a large percentage of readers under age 18.
- 83 percent support preventing tobacco companies from making claims that some products are less harmful than others unless the FDA determines those claims are true.
- 83 percent support requiring tobacco companies to take measures, when scientifically possible, to make cigarettes less harmful.
- 76 percent support requiring the reduction or removal of harmful ingredients, including nicotine, from tobacco products.
"Despite being the most deadly product sold in America, tobacco products are exempt from basic health regulations that apply to other products we consume, such as food and drugs, said Myers. "Until Congress grants the FDA authority over tobacco products, the tobacco companies will continue to take advantage of this lack of regulation to market their deadly and addictive products to our children."
Nationwide, tobacco use kills more than 400,000 people and costs more than $96 billion in health care bills each year. Currently, 23 percent of high school students smoke and more than 1,000 kids become new regular smokers every day. Yet tobacco products are virtually unregulated to protect consumers' health and safety.
The national survey of 800 registered voters was conducted by Public Opinion Strategies and the Mellman Group March 8 & March 10-12, 2007 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points. Detailed poll results can be found at: http://tobaccofreekids.org/pdf/FDATobacco.pdf