Every day, 3,000 young people start smoking regularly, and 1,000 of them will die early as a result. The central goal of tobacco legislation must be a comprehensive, nationwide effort to reduce teen smoking. The Administration is calling for:
Tough Penalties and Price Increases to Reduce Teen Smoking: The Administration believes tobacco legislation must include stiff penalties that give the tobacco industry the strongest possible incentive to stop targeting kids. Legislation should set ambitious targets to cut teen smoking by 30% in 5 years, 50% in 7 years, and 60% in 10 years, and impose severe financial penalties that hold tobacco companies accountable to meet those targets. The Administration supports penalties that are non-deductible, uncapped, and escalating --so that the penalties get stiffer and the price goes up the more that companies miss the targets. Reducing youth smoking is the Administration's bottom line, and now it must be the industry's bottom line.
One of the surest ways to reduce youth smoking is to increase the price of cigarettes. By some estimates, a 10% increase in cigarette prices will lead to a 7% drop in youth smoking. Today, the President called for a combination of industry payments and penalties to increase the price of cigarettes by up to $1.50 a pack over the next decade as necessary to meet the youth smoking reduction targets.
A Public Education and Counter Advertising Campaign: To succeed in reducing youth smoking, legislation must provide for a nationwide effort to deglamorize tobacco, warn young people of its addictive nature and deadly consequences, and help parents discourage their children from taking up the habit. Legislation should provide for a public education and counter advertising campaign, as well as state and local prevention efforts. The Administration also supports stronger, more visible warning labels on tobacco products.
Expanded Efforts to Restrict Access and Limit Appeal: The current FDA rule includes significant measures to reduce youth access to tobacco products (such as requiring retailers to check photo identification of anyone under 27) and to limit the advertising of tobacco to young people (such as restricting advertising near school buildings). The Administration supports legislation codifying these measures, imposing even stronger restrictions on youth access and advertising consistent with the Constitution, and establishing an effective retail licensing scheme with tough penalties.
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