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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release September 22, 2000


Today, I am pleased to sign an Executive Order establishing a new Commission to improve opportunities for tobacco farmers and their communities while continuing to protect public health. This action builds on the longstanding commitment Vice President Gore and I share to protect our children from the dangers of tobacco use and protect individual tobacco farmers. Tobacco growers, like many other farmers, have confronted difficult economic circumstances these last few years as tobacco companies increasingly turn to foreign tobacco. We have supported several efforts over the years to protect tobacco farmers and to develop new opportunities for these growers and their communities. The Commission, which will make recommendations on ways to continue this work while protecting public health, is an important next step.

This new panel, the President's Commission on Improving Economic Opportunity in Communities Dependent on Tobacco Production While Protecting Public Health, will be co-chaired by William Martin "Rod" Kuegel, Jr., the President of the Burley Tobacco Growers Cooperative Association, and Matthew Myers, the President of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. Both are leaders in their communities, with proven records on bringing grower and health groups together on issues important to both. In 1998, they worked with a coalition of grower, public health, and religious groups to issue a statement of principles outlining their shared commitment to reducing disease caused by tobacco products and ensuring the future prosperity and stability of American tobacco farmers and farming communities. The work of this important new Commission will serve to further demonstrate that the goals of reducing youth smoking and protecting American farmers can be pursued together.