Thursday, November 01, 2007

Zogby International Survey Shows that Public Opposes FDA Tobacco Legislation; Reveals that Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids' Polls Were Junk Science

According to a Zogby international poll released on Monday, nearly two-thirds of the public are opposed to the current proposal in Congress to have the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulate tobacco products.

The poll found that 65% of U.S. adults oppose the proposed legislation -- supported by Philip Morris and by anti-smoking groups such as the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids (TFK) -- which would give the FDA limited regulatory authority over tobacco products. Nearly half of the public (47%) stated that they strongly oppose the legislation.

The results of this poll conflict sharply with those of a poll commissioned by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, which reportedly showed that 70% of American voters support the proposed FDA tobacco legislation.

Pollster John Zogby concluded: “These poll results show Americans want the Food and Drug Administration to concentrate not on tobacco, but rather on policing our food supply and our medicines. This is even more evident given that these poll results came before FDA Chairman Andrew von Eschenbach reiterated his opposition to FDA regulation of tobacco. At a time when a significant majority of American adults say they are unhappy about the direction of the nation and are questioning the competence of the federal government to carry out its current responsibilities, the poll shows little appetite among informed adults to make big changes to the tobacco regulatory scheme.”

The Rest of the Story

In several previous posts, I have explained why the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids' poll represents junk science at its worst (post #1; post #2; post #3). Briefly, the TFK polls assessed general attitudes about the public's support for regulation of tobacco products, but did not measure actual support for the specific provisions in the actual legislation that is being considered. In particular, the TFK polls did not ask voters how they feel about the myriad provisions in the bill which limit the ability of the FDA to take action to protect the public -- provisions which were inserted specifically to protect the financial interests of Philip Morris, a key negotiator at the table when the deal was struck with TFK.

I previously opined that the TFK polls represented junk science, and that if questions were asked in a more complete and more specific way, vastly different responses would be obtained. The Zogby International poll confirms that this is indeed the case.

The Zogby poll didn't even inform voters about the specific provisions of FDA legislation. It obtained overwhelming opposition to the proposal merely by reminding the public that the FDA is charged with the responsibility to regulate the safety of the nation's food and drug supply. Can you imagine the results one would obtain if one were to actually inform people about the truck-size loopholes in the bill which are there for the sole purpose of protecting the financial interests of Philip Morris?

What I find so disturbing is not the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids' support for this Philip Morris protection legislation, but its misrepresentation of the facts and its wildly misleading propaganda in support of the legislation.

By stooping to the level of junk science, the tobacco control movement has lowered itself to the level of the tobacco companies. And ironically, in a so-called effort to prevent misrepresentation of facts to the public, the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids is relying upon exactly that to promote the legislation.

I guess it goes to show: if you can't beat 'em, join 'em.

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