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President Clinton Establishes Commission to Improve Economic Opportunity in Communities

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President Clinton establishes Commission to improve economic opportunity in communities dependent on tobacco production and protect public health (9/22/00)

Today, President Clinton is signing an Executive Order establishing the "President's Commission on Improving Economic Opportunity in Communities Dependent on Tobacco Production While Protecting Public Health." This Commission will bring the grower and public health communities together to explore common ground by developing recommendations to help tobacco farmers and their communities adjust to changes in the tobacco economy, while continuing to reduce youth smoking. Today's executive action builds on the Clinton-Gore Administration's longstanding record of protecting the health of our nation's children and holding the tobacco industry accountable, while protecting tobacco farmers and their communities.

Commission to Protect Tobacco Farmers and Their Communities and to Promote Public Health. Today, the President is signing an Executive Order to create a Commission to recommend measures to improve economic opportunity and development in tobacco-producing communities, while protecting consumers, particularly children, from hazards associated with smoking. The Commission will review a variety of federal, state and local initiatives, and will submit a preliminary report to the President through the Secretaries of Agriculture and Health and Human Services by the end of the calendar year, with a final report due six months from the Commission's first meeting. This Commission builds on a coalition of growers' groups and health organizations that came together in 1998 to issue the Core Principles Statement, which outlines their shared goals, and demonstrates that the objectives of reducing youth smoking and protecting American farmers can be pursued together. The President also will announce the two co-chairs of the Commission: William Martin "Rod" Kuegel, Jr., of Owensboro, Kentucky, and Matthew Myers, of Washington, D.C. Mr. Kuegel is a fourth-generation tobacco farmer, and President of the Burley Tobacco Growers Cooperative Association. Mr. Myers is a nationally known tobacco-control advocate and President of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.

Changing Economies in Tobacco-Growing Communities. For decades, the federal tobacco program has stabilized and supported tobacco prices by limiting supply through production quotas. The production quotas are based on a statutory formula that reflects tobacco companies' announced purchasing intentions, the three-year average of exports, and existing tobacco stock levels. However, in the past three years, America's tobacco farmers have experienced significant quota cuts, due largely to decisions by U.S. tobacco companies to shift their manufacturing and growing operations overseas, with the decline in tobacco use in the United States contributing to a much lesser extent. Even as tobacco farmers have seen revenues fall, the major U.S. cigarette companies have increased their overall revenues and profits.

Building on the Clinton-Gore Record of Protecting Public Health and Growers. President Clinton and Vice-President President Gore have fought hard not only to reduce youth smoking and hold the tobacco industry accountable, but also to protect individual tobacco farmers and their communities.

  • Promoting Public Health: The Administration has greatly increased support for efforts by states and communities to reduce tobacco use, while urging the states to do their part by dedicating the money collected from tobacco settlements to fund anti-smoking programs for our youth. The Administration has called on Congress to affirm the Food and Drug Administration's authority to put forward comprehensive regulations to protect our children from the dangers of tobacco. In 1999, the Department of Justice sued tobacco manufacturers to hold them accountable for their actions and to recover the cost of tobacco-related illnesses.
  • Protecting Tobacco Growers and Communities: In 1997, the President announced that protection for farmers and farming communities must be included as one of five key principles in any comprehensive tobacco legislation. In 1998, he held a roundtable discussion in Kentucky to listen to the concerns of farmers and the community regarding tobacco legislation. The President has also signed and supported legislation to compensate tobacco farmers for reductions in their 1999 and 2000 quotas, and supported the $5 billion settlement between states and industry to compensate tobacco farmers.

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