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April 20, 1998: Fighting For the Lives of America's Children

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Today, Congress returns to work, and to its obligation to act on the most critical public health threat facing our children. Over the next five weeks, this Congress has an historic opportunity to pass bipartisan, comprehensive legislation to protect our children from tobacco. Congress must not let this opportunity slip away.

- President Bill Clinton
April 20, 1998

Today, President Clinton issues a strong statement calling for Congress to pass comprehensive, bipartisan tobacco legislation to reduce teen smoking.

Clear Facts, High Stakes. 3,000 children begin to smoke every day; 1,000 of them will die early as a result. President Clinton is committed to passing comprehensive legislation to stop young Americans from smoking before they start, in an effort that can save one million lives over the next five years.

A Strong Foundation For Future Tobacco Reform. President Clinton believes that Senator McCain and Senator Hollings' tobacco legislation bill, which passed the Commerce Committee three weeks ago, is a strong step in the right decision on the road to passing bipartisan, comprehensive tobacco legislation this year.

Standing Strong For Comprehensive Reform. In the days to come, the tobacco industry will work to persuade Congress to pass weaker legislation that will not reduce teen smoking. We must continue to work with Senator McCain and others to protect the health of our children and make reducing teen smoking the tobacco industry's bottom line.

A Strategic Plan For Reducing Youth Tobacco Use. President Clinton's plan for comprehensive tobacco legislation includes five key principles:

  • A comprehensive plan to reduce youth smoking by raising the price of packs of cigarettes by up to $1.50 over ten years through a combination of annual payments and tough penalties on the tobacco industry;
  • Full authority for the Food and Drug Administration to regulate tobacco products;
  • Changes in the way the tobacco industry does business, including ending marketing and promotion to kids;
  • Progress toward other public health goals, including biomedical and cancer research, a reduction of second-hand smoke, promotion of smoking cessation programs, and other urgent priorities; and
  • Protection for tobacco farmers and their communities.

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