House Members To Propose $500 Billion Tobacco Plan
By Charles Bierbauer/CNN
WASHINGTON (May 5) -- A Republican and a Democrat have drawn up legislation to raise cigarette prices by $1.50 a pack over three years as part of a more than $500 billion plan to curb teen smoking.
CNN has learned the plan would set goals for reducing use of tobacco products by children -- 33 percent in three years, 50 percent in five years and 80 percent in 10 years -- and would require additional price increases if the goals are not met. The additional levy would be one cent per pack for each percentage point missed.
Rep. James Hansen (R-Utah) and Rep. Martin Meehan (D-Mass.) expect to introduce their bipartisan legislation Wednesday.
Other elements of the plan include:
- No caps on tobacco company liability and no immunity from lawsuits.
- FDA jurisdiction to regulate tobacco products.
- New warning labels.
- Smoking bans in most public facilities with some exceptions for bars, restaurants and clubs.
The proposal would divide the funds raised:
55 percent to the national debt.
10 percent to federal anti-tobacco programs.
35 percent to the states.
Congressional sources say the states would get at least as much as they would have under the tentative national settlement reached with tobacco companies last year.
It is uncertain how much support the Hansen-Meehan bill will attract despite its bipartisan authorship. Neither man sits on the House Commerce Committee which has primary jurisdiction over tobacco legislation.
House Speaker Newt Gingrich recently sent Commerce Chairman Tom Bliley (R-Va.) back to the drawing board. A proposal by Bliley and Democrat Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) fell short of Gingrich's expectations for "emphasis on anti-teen smoking."
Gingrich spokeswoman Christina Martin says Gingrich is waiting to see what kind of tobacco legislation the Senate will produce.