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March 12, 1998

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Because of the work this administration has done... we stand on the verge of one of the greatest public health achievements in history -- an historic triumph in our fight to protect America's children from the deadly threat of tobacco. We've waged a great struggle -- in the courts, in the Congress, and anywhere our nation's children have been targets of tobacco companies' mass-marketing schemes... This is a moment of great opportunity. We must ride this powerful momentum forward into the future.

- President Bill Clinton
March 12, 1998

Today, President Clinton addresses the National Association of Attorneys General and discusses America's commitment to protecting children from tobacco use.

A Strategic Plan For Reducing Youth Tobacco Use. President Clinton has proposed a balanced budget plan that includes historic measures to reduce youth tobacco use and to prevent young Americans from ever starting. This plan is expected to keep up to 1.9 million teens from smoking by the year 2003 and will save nearly one million lives. To ensure that these important efforts are successful, President Clinton is calling for tobacco legislation that includes five key principles:

  • A comprehensive plan to reduce youth smoking by raising the price of packs of cigarettes by up to $1.50 over ten years through a combination of annual payments and tough penalties on the tobacco industry;
  • Full authority for the Food and Drug Administration to regulate tobacco products;
  • Changes in the way the tobacco industry does business, including an end to marketing and promotion to children;
  • Progress toward other public health goals, including biomedical and cancer research, a reduction of second hand smoke, promotion of smoking cessation programs, and other urgent priorities; and
  • Protection for tobacco farmers and their communities.

A New Campaign To Prevent Youth Smoking. Recently, the FDA launched a new national education campaign using creative point-of-sale, radio, print, and billboard advertisements to make clear to consumers and retailers that tobacco sales to minors are against the law. The FDA plans to run its campaign in all 50 states by the end of 1998.

Building On State Efforts. The Administration's efforts compliment the progress being made at the state level under the Synar Amendment -- a law requiring states to assess retailer compliance with state youth tobacco access laws. Already, four states -- Florida, Maine, New Hampshire and Washington -- have met the retailer compliance requirements set by the law. Three more states -- Delaware, Rhode Island and Vermont -- are scheduled to meet the goal in 1999. The remaining states are expected to achieve these results between 2000 and 2003.

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