A Taste Of The Future? (8/26/97)
Clinton To Announce His Tobacco Pact Changes Wednesday
By Eileen O'Connor/CNN
WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, Sep. 16) -- President Bill Clinton says the $368.5 billion tobacco settlement is not dead, and on Wednesday will outline the changes he wants to further reduce youth smoking.
"I don't think it's dead," Clinton said of the settlement negotiated by many of the nation's attorneys general with the tobacco industry. "We ought to get this legislation through Congress as quickly as we can. But we have to do it right.
"I want to do what is necessary to protect children's health particularly and the public health in general," Clinton told reporters on the White House lawn this afternoon, "and I will be I think quite vigorous and clear tomorrow [Wednesday] when I make that announcement."
Clinton's move comes after a three-month review of the settlement, which the White House sees as flawed, and which the president will not endorse in its present form.
Specifically, the president is expected to outline broad measures designed to stiffen penalties already included in the deal if teen smoking is not reduced.
Clinton's plan sets specific targets, with the onus on the industry to meet the numbers: reductions of 30 percent in five years, 50 percent in seven years and 60 percent in 10 years.
If triggered, those penalties could add up to a per-pack price increase of $1.50 over a 10-year period.
Clinton will support the Senate's repeal of a $50 billion tobacco industry tax break included in the balanced-budget deal. Many feared the tax break would help the industry pay its penalties. The House has yet to act on the issue.
The president's proposals also set even tougher restrictions on advertising and access to cigarettes by teens than the settlement by the attorneys general.
The idea behind all these measures is to reduce the numbers of those who smoke at an early age, in the hope that then people will be less likely to ever take up smoking.
Finally, the administration will demand tobacco be regulated by the FDA, a proposal that has always been fought by the tobacco industry.
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