THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
NATIONAL GREAT AMERICAN SMOKEOUT DAY, 1997
BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
For 21 years, this special day has been devoted to communicating a simple message: if you smoke, you need to quit -- for life. Smoking is the largest cause of preventable death in this country, eventually killing one of every two people who continue to smoke. Every day, 3,000 adolescents in America smoke their first cigarette, taking the first step to becoming regular smokers, and one-third of these new smokers will eventually die of tobacco-related diseases. Each of these devastating statistics represents a personal tragedy, needless suffering, and irreparable loss.
Because most smokers -- more than 80 percent of them -- begin smoking before their 18th birthday, my Administration is working hard to reach children before they decide to start. Last year, I announced tough measures to limit children's access to tobacco products and to reduce their appeal to young people. Now we are working with the Congress, the public health community, State attorneys general across the country, and other interested organizations to develop and pass comprehensive national legislation to reduce teen smoking significantly.
Such legislation must set ambitious targets to cut teen smoking rates and stiff financial penalties to help ensure that tobacco companies meet those targets. To counteract the pervasive influence of cigarette and smokeless tobacco advertising and promotion, we must mount a nationwide effort to strip tobacco of its allure, warning our young people of its addictive nature and deadly consequences and helping parents discourage their children from ever taking up the habit. The Food and Drug Administration must have full authority to see to it that industry develops less addictive, reduced-risk products. And we must strengthen and expand our current efforts to limit the advertising of tobacco to children and restrict young people's access to tobacco products.
The Great American Smokeout offers all Americans, smokers and nonsmokers alike, an invaluable opportunity to show our young people how much we care about them and how much their good health means to us. I urge the almost 48 million adult Americans and 4 million of our young people who still smoke to set an example of strength and determination by quitting for the day and, ultimately, for life. I encourage students across the Nation to participate in Smokeout activities designed to teach them about the dangers of smoking. I ask all Americans to renew their commitment to a smoke-free environment for themselves and for our children. If we can accomplish these goals today, we can do so every day, creating a better, healthier future for us all.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, WILLIAM J. CLINTON, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim November 20, 1997, as National Great American Smokeout Day. I call upon all Americans to join together in an effort to educate our children about the dangers of tobacco use, and I urge both smokers and nonsmokers to take this opportunity to begin healthier lifestyles that set a positive example for young people.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twentieth day of November, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and ninety-seven, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and twenty-second.
WILLIAM J. CLINTON
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