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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release June 27, 2000


Today, the Surgeon General is releasing updated guidelines, compiled by top public and private sector experts, to help more people overcome their tobacco addiction and to give health care professionals an important tool to help their patients quit using tobacco products. Tobacco addiction and related health disorders pose one of the greatest public health threats facing our nation today. Over 400,000 Americans die every year from tobacco related diseases -- more than AIDS, illegal drugs, alcohol, fires, car accidents, murders and suicides combined.

While more than 25 percent of U.S. adults smoke, studies show that 70 percent of them would like to quit. To build on the new guidelines and progress we have already made to help federal personnel stop smoking, today I am issuing an Executive Memorandum directing all Federal Departments and Agencies to: encourage their employees to stop, or never start, smoking; provide information on proven smoking cessation treatments and practices; and describe assistance they can provide to help their personnel quit smoking. I am also directing the agencies to review their current tobacco cessation programs using the updated guidelines, and to report on their effectiveness and opportunities for enhancement to the Director of the Office of Personnel Management.

Finally, I urge Congress to enact my budget proposal to ensure that every state Medicaid program covers both prescription and non-prescription smoking cessation drugs -- helping millions of low-income Americans gain access to medical treatments that would help them break their addiction to tobacco.