THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary (New Delhi, India) ________________________________________________________________________ For Immediate Release March 21, 2000
STATEMENT BY THE PRESIDENT
Since we took office, Vice President Gore and I have worked hard to protect our children from the dangers of tobacco. Five years ago, the FDA put forward an important proposal to protect children from tobacco by eliminating advertising aimed at children and curbing minors' access to tobacco products. Today's Supreme Court opinion, while holding that Congress has not given FDA the authority to regulate tobacco products, does affirm our view that tobacco use by young people "poses perhaps the single most significant threat to public health in the United States."
If we are to protect our children from the harms of tobacco, Congress must now enact the provisions of the FDA rule. Fortunately, those protections have strong bipartisan support: in 1998, 57 Senators supported a bill negotiated by Senators Bill Frist and John McCain containing provisions comparable to those included in the FDA regulation.
So today I call upon the leadership of Congress to take up the bipartisan Frist-McCain legislation. Nearly 4 million children under the age of 18 smoke cigarettes - 3,000 more start each day and 1,000 will have their lives cut short as a result. Every year, more than 400,000 Americans die of tobacco-related diseases; nearly 80 percent of them started smoking as children. Even some in the tobacco industry - after fighting the FDA rule in court - now say they support regulation of tobacco. I believe that by working together across party lines, we can protect our children and save lives.