Monday, March 03, 2008

Overwhelming Majority of Americans Afraid that Proposed FDA Tobacco Legislation Would Risk Undermining FDA's Core Mission

In sharp contrast to a Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids-commissioned poll which purported to show that 70% of the nation's voters support the proposed FDA tobacco legislation, a poll released by Zogby International last week revealed that 82% of likely voters fear that the legislation would put the core mission of the FDA at risk and that 68% "oppose FDA regulation of tobacco."

According to Zogby: "The vast majority of likely voters – 82% – are concerned that a proposal by some in Congress to mandate Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulation of tobacco would interfere with the FDA’s core mission of regulating pharmaceutical drugs and the nation’s food supply, a new Zogby International telephone poll shows. Sixty-eight percent said they would be opposed to adding tobacco regulation to the FDA’s responsibilities. Only 3% believe regulating tobacco should be a priority for the FDA."

"'These poll results show Americans continue to want the Food and Drug Administration to concentrate on policing our food supply and our medicines, and not on regulating tobacco,' said Pollster John Zogby. 'At a time when three out of four American adults say they think the nation is off on the wrong track 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 majority of likely voters also disagree with the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids and other health groups which are supporting the legislation that it will prevent or reduce tobacco use: "Nearly two-thirds of respondents (63%) disagree that expanding the federal government and the FDA’s mission and authority to regulate adult tobacco sales will prevent or reduce tobacco use."

The Rest of the Story

This story confirms my earlier assessments that the polls commissioned by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids (TFK) which purported to show widespread support for the FDA tobacco legislation are pure politics, devoid of science.

In several previous posts, I have explained why the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids' polls represent 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.

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.

(Thanks to Brandz for the tip).

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