/PRNewswire/ -- A new statewide poll of registered voters finds that 71 percent of voters support Congress passing a bill to give the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) the authority to regulate tobacco products. The U.S. Senate is expected to debate this issue next week, and Senators Webb and Warner will play a key role in determining whether Congress will finally pass this life-saving legislation.
"Senators Webb and Warner have a critical role to play in ensuring that strong FDA tobacco regulation is enacted into law," said Matthew L. Myers, President, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. "We urge Senators Webb and Warner to vote for the bill when it's on the floor this year."
Support for FDA legislation crosses party lines, with strong majorities of Republicans (66 percent), Democrats (81 percent) and independents (71 percent) favoring FDA regulation of tobacco. In addition, support for FDA legislation is strong across virtually all demographic groups, with majorities of voters in every age bracket, education level, and income level supporting FDA regulation.
The poll shows:
-- 93 percent support restricting tobacco sales to children by requiring
ID checks for younger buyers and fining retailers who sell tobacco to
-- 79 percent support requiring tobacco companies to take measures, when
scientifically possible, to make cigarettes less harmful.
-- 86 percent support preventing tobacco companies from making claims
that some products are less harmful than others unless the FDA
determines those claims are true.
-- 87 percent support restricting tobacco marketing aimed at children
such as limiting advertising in magazines with a large percentage of
readers under age 18.
-- 73 percent support requiring the reduction or removal of harmful
ingredients, including nicotine, from tobacco products.
"There is broad, bipartisan support for FDA regulation of tobacco products," said Myers. "Virginia 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."
In April, the U.S. House of Representatives approved legislation granting the FDA authority over tobacco products with a vote of 298-112. Similar legislation was approved 15-8 by the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee on May 20th and sent to the full Senate for consideration.
"There are few other issues before Congress where you will find such strong consensus across regions and across party lines. The passage of this legislation to give the FDA the authority to regulate tobacco products was long overdue. I was proud to cast my vote to address the nation's number one preventable cause of death and keep tobacco products out of the hands of our children," said Representative Gerri Connolly (D-11th).
A 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."
Nationwide, tobacco use kills more than 400,000 people and costs more than $96 billion in health care bills each year. Currently, 20 percent of high school students smoke and more than 1,000 kids become new regular smokers every day. In Virginia, tobacco use kills 9,200 residents and costs the state $2.08 billion in health care bills a year, and 15.5 percent of high school students smoke.
The survey of 500 likely voters in Virginia was conducted by Global Strategy Group January 27-29, 2009 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.4 percentage points. Detailed poll results can be found at: www.tobaccofreekids.org.
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