Open Access Research article

Smokers' reactions to FDA regulation of tobacco products: Findings from the 2009 ITC United States survey

Brian V Fix1*, Richard J O'Connor1, Geoffrey T Fong23, Ron Borland4, K M Cummings5 and Andrew Hyland1

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Health Behavior, Roswell Park Cancer Institute, Elm and Carlton Street, Buffalo, NY 14263, USA

2 Department of Psychology, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, ON, N2L 3G1, Canada

3 Ontario Institute for Cancer Research, Toronto, ON, M5G 1L7, Canada

4 The Cancer Council Victoria, Carlton, VIC, 3053, Australia

5 Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, SC, USA

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BMC Public Health 2011, 11:941  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-11-941

Published: 16 December 2011



On June 22, 2009, the US FDA was granted the authority to regulate tobacco products through the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act (FSPTCA). The intent is to improve public health through regulations on tobacco product marketing and tobacco products themselves. This manuscript reports baseline data on smokers' attitudes and beliefs on specific issues relevant to the FSPTCA.


Between November 2009 and January 2010, a telephone survey among a nationally representative sample of n = 678 smokers in the US was performed as part of the International Tobacco Control (ITC) United States Survey. Participants answered a battery of questions on their attitudes and beliefs about aspects of the FSPTCA.


Most smokers were unaware of the new FDA tobacco regulations. Smokers indicated support for banning cigarette promotion and nearly a quarter supported requiring tobacco companies to sell cigarettes in plain packaging. Seventy two percent of smokers supported reducing nicotine levels to make cigarettes less addictive if nicotine was made easily available in non-cigarette form.


Most smokers were limited in their understanding of efforts to regulate tobacco products in general. Smokers were supportive of efforts to better inform the public about health risks, restrict advertising, and make tobacco products less addictive.