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June 18, 1998

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Today, like every other day, 3,000 children start to smoke, and 1,000 of them will have their lives shortened because of it. If more members of the Senate would vote like parents rather than politicians, we could solve this problem and go on to other business of the country

President Bill Clinton
June 17, 1998

Yesterday, a bipartisan majority of the Senate signaled its readiness to vote on meaningful tobacco legislation to reduce teen smoking, but were blocked by a minority of Senators. President Clinton is committed to passing this important legislation, and will continue to fight for the health and well-being of our children.

A Strategic Plan For Reducing Youth Smoking. For the last three years, the President has worked tirelessly to reduce teen smoking. The President has stated that tobacco legislation must meet 5 objectives: 1) a reduction in youth smoking by raising the price of cigarettes by up to $1.10 over 5 years, with additional surcharges on companies that continue to sell to kids; 2) full authority for the Food and Drug Administration to regulate tobacco products; 3) changes in the way the tobacco industry does business, including an end to marketing and promotion to kids; 4) 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 5) protection for tobacco farmers and their communities.

The Senate Refused To Vote On A Bill To Reduce Teen Smoking . The President supported legislation introduced by Senator John McCain (R-AZ) that contained the strongest anti-youth smoking provisions in our history and would cut youth smoking in half over the next five years. Yesterday, when Senators could have sided with families and children, a minority of Senators chose instead to side with the tobacco industry, and blocked a vote on this important legislation.

The President Worked Cooperatively with Congress To Produce Strong Legislation. In order to get a tough anti-smoking bill, the President was willing to accept a tax cut to eliminate the marriage penalty for couples making less than $50,000 a year, and increased funding for anti-drug measures. The President earlier worked to secure several improvements to the tobacco legislation, including stronger lookback surcharges, stronger environmental tobacco smoke protections, and substantial funding for public health and research as well as for states and tobacco farmers.

The Tobacco Lobby vs. Children And Families. The Senate's vote, and the lobbying effort by the tobacco industry, which spent $40 million to defeat this measure, will not reduce the President's resolve or effort to pass tobacco legislation. The facts are clear: Smoking kills -- 3,000 children every day start smoking and 1,000 of those children will die early as a result. Instead of supporting a plan to reduce teen smoking, the Senate sided with the tobacco lobby. The Senators who blocked this vote are on the wrong side of this issue, and they are out of step with the communities and families of this country.

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