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September 17, 1997

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The White House at Work

Wednesday, September 17, 1997
Tobacco Legislation Announcement


President Clinton challenged Congress to pass sweeping tobacco legislation to reduce teen tobacco use significantly. That legislation will build on the extraordinary efforts of the nation's attorneys general, who helped create an historic opportunity for progress in reducing smoking, especially by youth. Wednesday, September 17, the President announced five key elements that must be at the heart of any national tobacco legislation:

1. A Comprehensive Plan to Reduce Youth Smokng, Including Tough Penalties If Targets Are Not Met. The central goal of tobacco legislation must be a comprehensive, nationwide effort to reduce teen smoking. The Administration is calling for:

Tough Penalties and Price Increases to Reduce Youth Smoking: The Administration believes tobacco legislation must include stiff penalties that give the tobacco industry the strongest possible incentive to stop targeting kids. Legislation should set ambitious targets to cut teen smoking by 30% in 5 years, 50% in 7 years, and 60% in 10 years, and impose severe financial penalties that hold tobacco companies accountable to meet those targets. Today, the President called for a combination of industry payments and penalties to increase the price of cigarettes by up to $1.50 a pack over the next decade as necessary to meet youth smoking reduction targets.

A Public Education and Counter Advertising Campaign: Legislation must provide for a nationwide effort to deglamorize tobacco, warn young people of its addictive nature and deadly consequences, and help parents discourage their children from taking up the habit.

Expanded Efforts to Restrict Access and Limit Appeal: The Administration supports legislation codifying the FDA's efforts to reduce youth access to tobacco, and imposing even stronger restrictions on youth access and advertising consistent with the Constitution.

2. Full Authority for FDA to Regulate Tobacco Products. The Administration supports federal legislation that affirms efforts by the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) to regulate tobacco like any other drug or device and that provides FDA with sufficient flexibility to meet changing circumstances.

3. The Tobacco Industry Must Change The Way It Does Business. The President called for the tobacco industry to stop marketing and promoting tobacco to children, provide broad document disclosure --especially of those documents relating to marketing tobacco to children, and set up comprehensive corporate compliance programs that will reinforce the incentives created by the youth smoking penalties.

4. Progress Toward Other Public Health Goals. Federal tobacco legislation provides an opportunity to meet other public health goals: the reduction of second-hand tobacco smoke, the expansion of smoking cessation programs, the strengthening of international efforts to control tobacco, and the provision of funds for health research.

5. Protection for Tobacco Farmers and Their Communities. The Administration is committed to working with members of Congress in both parties to ensure that we protect the financial well-being of tobacco farmers, their families, and their communities.

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