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Eighty Percent Oppose House Tobacco Buyout Plan, Poll Shows

June 17, 2004

Washington, DC — Eighty percent of registered voters surveyed nationwide oppose the approach to a tobacco grower buyout included in the corporate tax bill (FSC/ETI bill) being voted on this week in the U.S. House of Representatives, according to a poll conducted June 11-13 for the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.

Voters surveyed were asked if they supported adding $10 billion in assistance to tobacco growers to an unrelated bill, funded with taxpayer dollars and not including any regulation of tobacco products. Eighty percent said they were opposed, with 67 percent strongly opposed. Only 10 percent said they supported this proposal.

Voters strongly opposed this proposal regardless of their political affiliation – 82 percent of Republicans, 82 percent of Democrats and 79 percent of Independents opposed it.

The poll also found that 69 percent of voters surveyed favored Congress passing a bill that would give the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) the authority to regulate tobacco products, including restrictions on sales and marketing to children.

The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids has urged Congress not to include the buyout in the FSC/ETI bill and instead to pass separate legislation that includes both effective FDA regulation of tobacco products and a buyout that is paid by the tobacco companies, not taxpayers.

The Campaign opposes the FSC/ETI buyout proposal because it does nothing to protect public health; it is funded by taxpayers, not the tobacco companies; it adds to the federal budget deficit; and it would eliminate all price and production controls on tobacco, including allowing tobacco to be grown anywhere in the United States. Tobacco companies benefit greatly because they do not have to pay for the buyout and they end up with cheaper tobacco. The Congressional Research Service has estimated that tobacco companies will save between half a billion and two billion dollars a year under such a buyout proposal.

“Voters clearly realize that the House buyout plan is a bad deal for them. They also want Congress to pass effective FDA regulation of tobacco products that protects our kids and health,” said Matthew L. Myers, President of the Campaign. 'Good public policies on tobacco also happen to be good politics.”

The nationwide telephone survey of 853 registered voters was conducted June 11-13, 2004, by Synovate’s TeleNation. The margin of error is +/- 3.3 percentage points. Attached is a copy of the poll.