THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
PRESIDENT CLINTON URGES CONGRESS TO "GET THE JOB DONE NOW" TO REDUCE YOUTH SMOKING AND PASS LEGISLATION THIS WEEK June 15, 1998
Today, President Clinton will call upon the Senate to "get the job done now" and pass tough bipartisan tobacco legislation this week. The McCain bill is a good strong bill that will cut youth smoking in half and save a million lives over the next five years. It has been nearly a year since the state attorneys general's proposed settlement brought comprehensive tobacco legislation to the Congress, and a month since the full Senate began to consider the issue. In the past year, over one million children -- 3,000 a day -- have become regular smokers, and one third will die prematurely as a result. The McCain bill will cut youth smoking in half by:
Raising the price of cigarettes by $1.10 over the next five years -- the single most important step we can take to reduce youth smoking. Imposing tough lookback surcharges on tobacco companies if youth smoking does not decline by 67% over the next decade. Reaffirming FDA's full authority over tobacco products. Launching major nationwide efforts to reduce youth smoking, including a nationwide counteradvertising campaign to warn young people not to smoke, state and local tobacco education and prevention programs, and tough enforcement measures to stop retailers from selling cigarettes to minors. Taking other important steps to protect against the dangers of smoking, including expanded warning labels on cigarettes, mandatory disclosure of additives and cigarette ingredients, a nationwide ban on smoking in public buildings, and substantial funding for smoking cessation programs. Funding a major increase in health research at the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control, including clinical trials for cancer patients. The McCain bill started strong . . . The Administration worked to
secure several important improvements to the bill that passed the Commerce Committee by a margin of 19-1 in April -- including stronger lookback surcharges, stronger environmental tobacco smoke protections, elimination of the antitrust exemption and of liability protection for parent companies, and substantial funding for public health and research as well as for states and tobacco farmers.
. . . and has gotten stronger. The full Senate passed an amendment by Senator Durbin to increase company-specific lookback surcharges still further, and rejected an amendment by Senator Ashcroft to remove the price increase from the bill. The Senate has authorized additional uses for tobacco revenues -- with amendments on veterans health, drug prevention, and targeted tax relief -- while keeping intact the core efforts to reduce youth smoking and protect the public health.