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Voters Strongly Support FDA Regulation Of Tobacco

Armen Hareyan's picture

A new poll of registered voters in the 9th Congressional District of Indiana finds that 72 percent of voters support Congress passing a bill to give FDA the authority to regulate tobacco products.

As a member of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce where the bill has been referred, Indiana Representative Baron Hill (D-IN) will play a key role in the consideration of this legislation.

"We call on Representative Hill to join Senators Bayh and Lugar and Representatives Ellsworth and Carson and cosponsor this important legislation that protects our kids from tobacco addiction and saves lives," said Aaron Doeppers, Director, Midwestern Region, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. "There is broad, bipartisan support for FDA regulation of tobacco products. Indiana voters 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 target our children and mislead the public."

Support for FDA legislation crosses party lines, as large majorities of Democrats, Republicans, and Independents in the district support the proposal. Likewise, virtually every demographic subgroup - men and women, young and old, rich and poor, black and white - supports the legislation. Even 57 percent of current smokers favor Congress passing FDA legislation.

Support among the district's voters for FDA regulation of tobacco climbs even higher (82 percent) when voters hear specific provisions of the bill and remains high (69 percent) after hearing arguments for and against the legislation.

The poll shows:

-- 94 percent support restricting tobacco sales to children by requiring ID checks for younger buyers and fining retailers who sell tobacco to minors.

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-- 89 percent support restricting tobacco marketing aimed at children such as limiting advertising in magazines with a large percentage of readers under age 18.

-- 84 percent support preventing tobacco companies from making claims that some products are less harmful than others unless the FDA determines those claims are true.

-- 88 percent support requiring tobacco companies to take measures, when scientifically possible, to make cigarettes less harmful.

-- 84 percent support requiring the reduction or removal of harmful ingredients, including nicotine, from tobacco products.

The poll also found that 72 percent of 9th District voters think Congress will have accomplished something important if it passes FDA legislation and 51 percent would have a more favorable opinion of Congress if it passes legislation giving the FDA authority over tobacco, while only 13 percent would have a less favorable opinion. Sixty-four percent of voters are more likely to vote for a candidate who supports the FDA legislation.

A recent report by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) concluded that in order for the United States to dramatically reduce tobacco use as a significant public health problem, it is essential to provide FDA authority over tobacco products. As the IOM concluded, "The time has come for Congress to exercise its acknowledged authority to regulate the production, marketing and distribution of tobacco products."

Identical, bipartisan bills to grant the FDA authority over tobacco have been introduced in the Senate and House of Representatives. Demonstrating strong, bipartisan support, the legislation has 53 Senate sponsors and 196 House sponsors. The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee passed the legislation on August 1.

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. In Indiana, tobacco use kills 9,800 residents and costs the state $2.08 billion in health care bills a year, and over 21 percent of high school students smoke.

The survey of 300 registered voters in Indiana's 9th District was conducted by Public Opinion Strategies and the Mellman Group May 31-June 7, 2007 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 5.7 percentage points.