Reaction On Clinton's Tobacco Plan (9/17/97)
Clinton May Propose Tobacco Revisions (9/16/97)
It's 'Day One' In Tobacco War
WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, Sep. 18) -- It's "Day One" in the Clinton Administration's war against tobacco, according to the vice president.
Al Gore told parents, children and anti-smoking activists gathered in the Ceremonial Office of the Old Executive Office Building the White House would sit down with congressional leaders in the middle of October to discuss the deal. (320K wav sound)
"It's traditional to consult with the leadership of the Congress on controversial matters so that the drafting of legislation will reflect concerns that can be anticipated in advance," Gore said.
But he laid down a marker for where negotiations would go. "The principles the president laid down yesterday [Wednesday] must be included and will be included," he said.
Clinton's call to significantly toughen the provisions on youth smoking and to preserve the Food and Drug Administration's jurisdiction over tobacco and nicotine was met with enthusiasm from many anti-smoking activists, but coolly in some offices in Congress.
Senate Majority Whip Don Nickles of Oklahoma said, "I don't feel compelled that we have to pass this in two months. I don't feel compelled that we have to pass this in 12 months."
Rep. Thomas Bliley (R-Va.) says Clinton's action "makes it far more difficult for us to do it at all, regardless of the terms."
Florida GOP Sen. Connie Mack, a vociferous tobacco-industry critic, said Clinton didn't go far enough. "Rhetoric makes poor legislation," Mack said. The president's focus on youth smoking rates "offered little hope to those Americans who are addicted to tobacco," he said.
Meanwhile, tobacco farmers took to Capitol Hill today to make the case for their way of life.
"I was born to a tobacco farmer. I do not like being condemned because I was not born to a rice farmer or a wheat grower," Rod Kuegel of Owensboro, Ky., told the Senate Agriculture Committee.
"I want to continue operating under the program that we have, with its ability to protect and preserve my chance of profitability," Kuegel said. He was one of several farmers testifying before the panel.
Economists predict sharply lower tobacco farm income as a result of the cigarette industry's deal with the attorneys general. Tobacco farmers are asking Congress to reject the deal, or at the very least to use some of the hundreds of billions of dollars in fines against the industry to protect them and their towns.
In his remarks Wednesday, Clinton said that any settlement with the tobacco industry should not hurt the farmers. "They're good, hard-working, tax-paying citizens, and they have not caused this problem," he said. "And we cannot let them, their families or their communities just be crippled or broken by this."
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Thursday Sept. 18, 1997
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