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Office Of The Vice President

For Immediate Release October 3, 1997

Concerned Citizens Speak Out About Smoking, Build Support for President's Plan

TAMPA, FL -- Taking the lead to build support around the country for President Clinton's anti-smoking plan, Vice President Gore today (10/3) held the first of three regional forums on the issue of reducing youth smoking, hearing firsthand from concerned parents, students and community leaders about the dangers of tobacco and what we can do to prevent young people from starting this deadly habit.

"We must ensure that tobacco billboards near schools are taken down not just in Florida, but in Texas and California and every state in the country," said Vice President Gore to a gymnasium filled with hundreds of cheering middle school students, parents and teachers. "We must ensure that the national government has the authority to regulate this deadly drug, and that the tobacco companies are held accountable for the effects of their products."

"Our young people deserve nothing less. With your help, we can cut down the number of children who cut short their future when they use tobacco," Vice President Gore said.

On September 16, President Clinton challenged Congress to pass sweeping tobacco legislation to reduce significantly teen use of tobacco. He announced five key elements that must be at the heart of any national tobacco legislation: 1) A comprehensive plan to reduce teen smoking, including tough penalties if targets in reducing youth smoking are not met; 2) Full authority for the Federal Drug Administration to regulate tobacco products; 3) Change the way the tobacco industry does business; 4) Progress toward other health goals; 5) And protection for tobacco farmers and their communities.

President Clinton asked Vice President Gore to take the lead and build support around the country for these principles. To that end, today's forum at Roland Park Middle School in Tampa, FL, was the first of three meetings that Vice President Gore will hold by the end of the year. Participants at the forum included 6th, 7th, and 8th-grade students, their parents and teachers, public health advocates, and community leaders and elected officials. The forums are designed to educate the public about the President's anti-smoking plan and hear firsthand about citizens' concerns.

The theme for today's forum was "Reducing Teen Smoking -- America's Bottom Line." Vice President Gore was joined at the event by Health and Human Services Secretary Donna Shalala, former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner David Kessler, former Surgeon General C. Everett Koop, Florida Lt. Governer Buddy McKay, Tampa Mayor Dick Greco, Florida Attorney General Bob Butterworth, and Florida Representative Jim Davis (D-11th).