Gore Urges Congress To Pass Tobacco Legislation
WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, Feb. 27) -- Insisting there is not "a single day to waste" in the battle against teen smoking, Vice President Al Gore urged Congress Friday to pass "bipartisan, comprehensive, anti-smoking legislation by this summer."
Gore lobbied lawmakers during a event to announce an ad campaign the federal government will launch this weekend to discourage retailers from selling cigarettes to minors.
"With this new campaign and with a renewed call for bipartisan, comprehensive anti-tobacco legislation this year, we can give our young people a healthier, smoke-free tomorrow, and it can't come a day too soon," Gore said.
Government figures show 400,000 people die from tobacco-related illnesses each year. "With this many people being killed every year, and with a cynical and calculated campaign aimed directly at children to try to purposely get them hooked, we have to take action as a country to stop this," Gore said. "It's wrong. It's terribly wrong.
"This Congress, this year, must be the one to take action. And we just can't do it with watered down piecemeal legislation," the vice president said.
Gore acknowledged the tobacco industry has a powerful lobbying effort in Washington, but said, "What used to be a third rail is becoming a second chance for millions of American children."
The vice president had harsh words for the big tobacco companies. "We know from all the research that they did that's now coming out that they decided very carefully, very cynically that they needed to replace all the customers that were dying because of their product every year by recruiting enough children each year to keep them coming into the customer pipeline," Gore said.
Gore unveiled a $7.5 million national advertising campaign to educate retailers, clerks and customers about legislation that President Bill Clinton signed a year ago to restrict the sale, advertising and accessibility of tobacco products to teens.
"With these millions of dollars in new print advertising and billboards and in-store materials and radio ads, we will stop retailers from peddling poison, and protect the health of our children and help those retailers who are wanting to be a part of this and to do a good job," Gore said.