THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary (Greenwich, Connecticut) ________________________________________________________________________ For Immediate Release May 17, 2000
STATEMENT BY THE PRESIDENT
New studies released by independent researchers today underscore the need for Congressional action in the fight to protect our children from the dangers of tobacco. New studies by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and the American Legacy Foundation show that tobacco advertising in magazines read by large numbers of kids has increased over one-third since the 1998 settlement agreement between states and tobacco companies. In addition, not only have tobacco companies increased the number of magazine ads targeted to young people; they may actually be doing it more effectively. The studies show that these ads are actually being seen by more young people. Top brand advertising alone now reaches 70 percent of all teens.
I call on the Attorneys General from the states who signed the agreement to take immediate and appropriate enforcement action to stop these practices. And again, I call on Congress to give the FDA meaningful authority to regulate the marketing, sale and manufacturing of tobacco products. The youth-oriented advertising addressed in these studies would have been limited by the FDA rule. FDA's hands should not remain tied by Congressional inaction.
In 1998, Senators Frist and McCain introduced a bill that would have given the FDA authority to regulate the marketing and sale of tobacco products. Unfortunately, a weak, watered-down bill was introduced yesterday that would allow the marketing practices revealed today to continue.
Instead of protecting our children from tobacco, some in Congress are actually trying to block out efforts to hold the tobacco industry accountable for decades of deception. As a Senate appropriations committee recently passed a rider that would stop the Justice Department from proceeding with litigation to recover federal tobacco-related health costs from tobacco manufacturers. I urge Congress to reject this blatant effort to put special interests ahead of the taxpayers.