Tobacco Bill May Not Be Dead Yet
WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, June 8) -- Reports of the demise of the comprehensive tobacco legislation stalled in Congress may be premature, according to a law professor who has followed the dispute.
Richard Daynard, head of the tobacco products liability project at Northeastern School of Law in Boston, told CNN the bill may have more of a chance of passing than indicated by Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.).
Daynard said the Republican leader's comments were part of an attempt to bestow immunity on the tobacco industry and predicted the legislation still could pass.
"Lott is desperate to give the tobacco companies their immunity," Daynard
said. "If it's dead in the water, it's only because he's harpooning it.
"I'm not sure the Republicans dare oppose it," Daynard said. "When push
comes to shove, if it doesn't get enacted, the American public is not going to
care about the parliamentary manuevers that were involved. They'll blame the
Republicans, who, after all, control both houses of Congress."
Lott said Sunday the bill was "dead in the water" and the only way Sen. John McCain's bill had a chance of passing would by to drastically alter it, which is just what some senators want to do.
Supporters of an alternate bill authored by Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) may seize upon the impasse as an opportunity to forward Hatch's bill, which lies somewhere between McCain's and the June 20 settlement.
Hatch's bill provides payments of approximately $450 billion, sets penalties for tobacco companies if teen smoking rates do not decrease and proposes taxes of up to $1.50 a pack.
McCain’s bill aims to reduce teen smoking by 45 percent over the next 10 years. The legislation proposes meeting that goal through raising the price of cigarettes by $1.10 a pack and placing limitations cigarette marketing and advertisements.
White House advisers say that the president will continue to support McCain's bill and is prepared to make tobacco an issue in the upcoming congressional elections, should the bill die.
CNN's John King contributed to this report.