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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release April 27, 1998
                           PRESIDENT CLINTON 

                            April 27, 1998

President Clinton said today that a new Surgeon General's report on tobacco underscores the urgent need for comprehensive legislation to reduce youth smoking. Over the last six years, youth smoking has increased by one third. Smoking has increased among young people of all races and ethnicities, growing by a startling 80 percent among African American youth. Today, 40 percent of white high school students smoke, as do one-half of young Native Americans, one third of Hispanics, and one-fifth of Asian and African Americans. Every day, 3000 children become regular smokers -- and 1000 of them will die as a result. This report -- the first to be released by newly appointed Surgeon General David Satcher -- is the first comprehensive source of data on the use and health effects of tobacco among ethnic groups.

The Surgeon General's Report Documents Disturbing Trends in Tobacco Use. African Americans, Hispanics, Asian Americans, and American Indians/Alaska Natives make up nearly one-fourth of the United States population. The report provides a comprehensive analysis on the effect of tobacco on these groups, including that:

Teen smoking rates are rising in all ethnic groups.

Cigarette smoking is a major cause of death and disease among all minority and ethnic groups. The report documents that:

The tobacco industry has targeted advertising and promotion campaigns in ethnic and minority communities that pose serious challenges to reducing smoking among this population. The report found that:

More research is needed to understand racial and ethnic smoking patterns and to reduce tobacco use among racial and ethnic minorities.

The President Renewed His Call for Comprehensive Bipartisan Tobacco Legislation. The President emphasized that this report again demonstrates the need to pass bipartisan comprehensive tobacco legislation to reduce youth smoking this year. Noting that Senator McCain's bill is a strong step in the right direction, the President renewed his call for Congress to send him legislation that:

Raises the price of cigarettes by up to $1.50 a pack over the next ten years and imposes tough penalties on companies that continue to sell to kids;

Confirms the FDA's authority to regulate tobacco products;

Gets tobacco companies out of the business of marketing to children;

Furthers public health research and goals; and

Protects tobacco farmers and their communities.