THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary (San Antonio, Texas) ________________________________________________________________________ For Immediate Release October 17, 1995 REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT AT CONCERT OF HOPE BENEFIT
Pantages Theatre Hollywood, California October 16, 1995
9:40 P.M. PDT
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. Thank you, Joe Califano, for your singular determination to keep this issue before the American people. There is not another citizen in the entire United States of America who has done as much as Joe Califano to help us all to come to grips with the implications of substance abuse. And every American is in his debt. (Applause.)
I also want to thank the other honorees for the work they have done -- the late Frank Wells, and Tony Bennett, and our friend, Betty Ford. I want to thank the Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia for helping us all to learn more about this, and all the performers tonight for making this a very special evening for the United States.
This mission of ours cuts across politics, geography, income and race. It must unite all of our people in a common purpose. Tonight, in 3,500 cities and towns all across our beloved country, community antidrug coalitions are gathered in auditoriums and town halls to watch this broadcast. These people have played a large role in our antidrug efforts, many of them part of an important campaign led by Lee Brown, our Director of National Drug Control Policy, who accompanied me here tonight. With their help, he is getting an urgent and very straightforward message to our teenagers: Stay drug-free; you have the power. With marijuana use on the rise among our teens, that's a message every one of us must now help to spread every day.
Tonight, the antidrug coalitions all across our country who are sharing this evening with us are honoring some of their own and some of our nation's finest. I applaud these honorees as well -- the parents, the police officers, the prosecutors, the clergy, the social service workers, the doctors, the recovering drug addicts and alcoholics, and all of their families -- for they are the true foot soldiers and the real heroes in this, our common national crusade. To them I say, we know your battle is not easy, but you are not alone, and you must keep fighting for all of us, and especially for our children.
Like millions of Americans, I know firsthand how a family suffers from both drug and alcohol abuse. The consequences of this kind of abuse are many. But since December 1st is World AIDS Day, we should take special note that 25 percent of AIDS cases are the result of drug abuse. Many other cases can be blamed on the risks our young people take under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
The battle against substance abuse must be waged a person at a time, a family at a time, a school at a time, community by community. But it must be backed by all of our efforts, including the President. We are doing what we can at the national level -- with punishment, with working to keep drugs out of the country, with helping our community-based efforts to promote safe and drug-free schools, and prevention and treatment programs that are so important. And I will keep fighting to keep these things funded. (Applause.)
But I also hope all of you will help me in this battle against teen smoking. We know that every day 3,000 of our young people begin to smoke, and that 1,000 of them will have their lives end prematurely because of it. Children who reach the age of 20 almost never start smoking if they haven't started by then.
These are our common goals and our common endeavors. We wish for all of our children a drug-free America. It's up to each of us to take the kind of responsibility that your honorees, and the honorees in all those town halls and auditoriums all across America, have assumed. If we can do our part, we can give this country a drug-free America in the 21st century.
Thank you, and God bless you all. (Applause.)
END 9:44 P.M. PDT