THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
STATEMENT BY THE PRESIDENT
A new report today by the Surgeon General demonstrating that we can cut tobacco use in half over the next decade lends strong new impetus to our fight against the dangers of cigarette smoking. Over 400,000 Americans die every year from tobacco-related diseases. Every day, 3,000 children under the age of 18 start smoking, and 1,000 will have their lives cut short as a result. Today's report not only underscores the urgency of reducing tobacco use -- the single leading cause of preventable death and disease in the United States -- but also provides powerful scientific evidence about the wide range of effective tools available to get the job done.
Vice President Gore and I have worked hard to protect our nation's children from the dangers of tobacco. Today, I again urge Congress to provide FDA with the authority to protect our nation's children and to fund my budget initiatives to reduce youth smoking. I also call on Congress to support the Department of Justice lawsuit to recover the taxpayer costs of tobacco-related illness by holding the tobacco industry accountable for the harm it has caused.
When Congress returns in September, it will have another opportunity to join us in making the health of our children a priority by rejecting the interests of big tobacco and letting the American taxpayers have their day in court.
Today's report also reinforces the importance of comprehensive state tobacco control efforts, which have demonstrated powerful results in reducing tobacco use in leading states. I renew my call for more states to use the resources available from the state tobacco settlement on efforts to reduce smoking among our young people.