Results from an International Tobacco Control (ITC) United States Supplemental Survey, published recently in the journal BMC Public Health , reveal that smokers strongly favor decreasing the addictiveness of cigarettes.

Lead investigator Andrew Hyland, PhD, Chair of the Department of Health Behavior at the Roswell Park Cancer Institute (RPCI), and his team, surveyed 678 smokers between November 2009 and January 2010 on their attitudes and beliefs about the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act (FSPTCA). In 2009, the Act was signed into law, authorizing the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) authority to control the manufacturing, marketing and sale of tobacco products, with a mandate to reduce tobacco-related disease and death.

Dr. Hyland explained:

“These baseline data were collected shortly after passage of the FDA law and prior to enactment of specific regulatory measures. These initial levels of support or opposition for specific policy measures are useful to inform policy development and highlight the need to continue to educate smokers and the public at large about the purpose behind the regulations.”

The survey findings revealed, that:

  • 71% of smokers did not know that the FDA is authorized to regulate tobacco.
  • 67% of smokers are in favor of reducing nicotine levels in cigarettes – if nicotine was available in a non-cigarette form.
  • 67% of smokers reported supporting banning cigarette advertising, promotion, and marketing activities.
  • 41% of smokers reported they would agree to a law that would ban additives and flavoring that make cigarettes less harsh.

Dr. Hyland comments:

“To date, little is known about the attitudes toward the FDA’s new role in regulating tobacco products. Our research found that most smokers were supportive of efforts to make tobacco products less addictive, to ban advertising, and to better inform the public about health risks.”

The ITC United States Survey started in 2002 and has been conducted almost every year in conjunction with ITC surveys in Canada, United Kingdom, and Australia, who are part of the global ITC Project. The project performs similar surveys in over 20 countries, which combined, account for over half of the world’s population, in order to assess the affects of tobacco control policies, including warning pictures, higher taxes on tobacco products, advertising and promotion bans as well as smoke-free laws.

Dr. Hyland states:

“We are in the process of comparing our data on support for tobacco-control policies in the U.S. to support what we’ve found in other countries. This will allow us to understand tobacco use and the potential of FDA policies to reduce tobacco use not only here in the U.S. but throughout the world.”

Written by Petra Rattue