FIGHTING FOR LEGISLATION TO REDUCE TEEN SMOKING
Some have suggested that Congress should now just get in line and do what the tobacco lobby wants them to do... and appear to be passing a bill that will reduce teen smoking, that everybody knows will not have very much influence... We're going to stick with the children and their future...and keep working, to get a bill that will increase the price of cigarettes enough to deter smoking, that will have strong advertising restrictions, that will have strong access restrictions, that will invest in public health and do something honorable for tobacco farmers.
President Bill Clinton
June 19, 1998
President Clinton is committed to passing landmark tobacco legislation that will reduce teen smoking and benefit the health and well-being of our children. The Senate's refusal to vote on this important legislation is a vote against our nation's families and children. The President will not accept scaled down legislation which does not seriously address the problem of teen smoking, but merely serves to give cover to members of Congress.
On Wednesday June 17th, 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 -- legislation that would cut youth smoking in half over the next five years. 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.
Wednesday's Decision Was A Vote Against Families and Children. The President worked in good faith with Senators who expressed concern about tobacco legislation and accepted Republican changes. Every major amendment to the tobacco bill was proposed by a member of the Republican majority. Tobacco legislation was voted out of Committee by a 19-1 margin; however, when the measure came to the Senate floor, many Republicans who had voted for the bill in committee switched their vote. In doing so, these Senators voted against:
- A law that would help save an estimated 1 million lives over the next five years by cutting youth smoking in half over the next five years;
- A tax cut to eliminate the marriage penalty for couples making less than $50,000 a year, and increased funding for anti- drug measures;
- Caps on attorneys for lawyers involved in tobacco litigation.
The President Is In Good Company. The President stands with leading public health organizations -- the American Heart Association, American Lung Association, and the American Cancer Society -- in calling for tobacco legislation that actually helps reduce teen smoking. That is why the President will not accept scaled down tobacco legislation that has no real chance of saving the lives of young people, but instead is simply intended to save the political lives of members of Congress.
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.
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.