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New National Survey Finds Most Americans Don't Know What's In a Cigarette

Twelfth Annual 'Kick Butts Day' Calls for FDA Regulation of Tobacco Products
March 28, 2007

Washington, DC — A new survey released today by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids finds that most Americans are not aware of the dangerous chemicals in cigarettes and cigarette smoke. The survey found that 71 percent of adults and 79 percent of teens could not name a single chemical found in cigarette smoke, other than tar and nicotine. Cigarette smoke contains more than 4,000 chemicals, including at least 69 that cause cancer and many more that are hazardous.

Chemicals in cigarette smoke include arsenic (used in rat poison, causes cancer in humans), ammonia (used in household cleaners, can irritate the respiratory tract and elevate blood pressure), formaldehyde (used to embalm bodies, causes nasal cancer and can damage the lungs, skin and digestive system), and polonium 210 (a highly radioactive element that causes cancer). To raise awareness about these and other hazardous chemicals in cigarettes, the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids has launched a new web site –

The survey also found powerful evidence that children are still being bombarded by tobacco advertising. Teens are almost twice as likely as adults to recall seeing advertising for cigarettes or spit tobacco in the previous two weeks - 49 percent of teens recalled seeing tobacco advertising, while only 26 percent of adults did.

According to the latest report from the Federal Trade Commission, the tobacco companies spend more than $15.4 billion a year to market their products in the U.S. - $42 million a day. Tobacco companies have more than doubled their marketing since the 1998 state tobacco settlement, which was supposed to restrict tobacco marketing. A federal judge last year, ruling that the tobacco companies have violated civil racketeering laws, found that the tobacco companies continue to market to children.

The survey was released as thousands of young people across the country rally against tobacco for the twelfth annual Kick Butts Day, sponsored by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids (for a list of events in each state, visit

This year, health advocates are urging Congress to pass legislation granting the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authority to regulate tobacco products. Among other things, the legislation would: require that tobacco companies disclose the contents of tobacco products and remove harmful ingredients; crack down on tobacco marketing and sales to kids; stop tobacco companies from misleading the public about health risks of their products; and require larger, more effective health warnings on cigarette packs.

'These survey results demonstrate powerfully why tobacco products - the most deadly products sold in America - cannot remain one of the least regulated products sold in America,' said Matthew L. Myers, President of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. 'It's time for Congress to end the deadly status quo that allows tobacco companies to control what they put in their products, what they tell us about them and how they are marketed. By granting the FDA authority over tobacco products, Congress can stop the tobacco industry from targeting our children and misleading the public. We hope this survey and Kick Butts Day will inspire elected leaders across the nation to support effective measures to protect children and save lives.'

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.

The national telephone survey of 510 teens aged 12-17 was conducted through International Communications Research (ICR) Teen Excel Study from March 7-11, 2007, and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.3 percentage points. The national telephone survey of 1,012 adults was also conducted through ICR's Excel on March 7-11, 2007, and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points. Due to rounding, total numbers may not equal 100 percent. Detailed survey results can be found at: