New Poll: Money From State Tobacco Settlement Should Be Used To Reduce Tobacco Use Among Children

Voters Say Tobacco Control is a Top Priority
November 13, 1998

Washington, DC - State officials should use funds from any tobacco settlement to reduce tobacco use among children, according to results of a telephone poll released today by the CAMPAIGN FOR TOBACCO-FREE KIDS. The vast majority of those polled in each of 17 states believe that at least half of the money should be used exclusively to combat tobacco addiction. The survey also found that more voters in each state favor spending the money on tobacco prevention than on any of the other initiatives that were asked about -- including reducing taxes. An agreement between several state attorneys general and the tobacco industry is expected to be announced shortly. The settlement will require the tobacco companies to pay approximately $200 billion over the next 25 years to recover damages for money the states have spent treating smoking-related illnesses. “It makes sense for the states to spend a major portion of settlement money on reducing the harm caused by tobacco,” said Bill Novelli, CAMPAIGN president. “Almost 90 percent of all smokers begin at or before the age of 18, and teen smoking is at a 19-year high. If states fail to use funds from the settlement for effective public health programs, they will have gained nothing in the battle to protect kids from tobacco and they will find that their costs of tobacco-caused disease in the future will dwarf what they sought payment for today.” 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. Three-fourths or more of those polled in each state indicated that efforts to reduce tobacco use among kids should be a priority for the funds from any settlement. “The tobacco industry has knowingly sold lethal products that have sickened and killed millions of people,” said CAMPAIGN Executive Vice President and General Counsel Matthew L. Myers. “While nothing can be done to erase the pain suffered by Big Tobacco’s victims, it is high time this rogue industry compensate for the impact of its reckless actions. Voters believe that such funds should be used to prevent a new generation from falling prey to a lifetime of nicotine addiction.” The surveys of 625 to 836 registered likely voters per state were conducted via telephone by Mason-Dixon Political/Media Research, Inc. between October 9 and 28, 1998, and have a margin of error of +/- 3.5 to 4.0 percentage points. Polls were conducted in the following states: Alabama, Alaska, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Kentucky, Maryland, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Washington and Wisconsin. The Washington, DC-based CAMPAIGN FOR TOBACCO FREE KIDS, which commissioned the poll, is the largest initiative ever undertaken to decrease youth tobacco use in the United States. An annotated questionnaire is attached.