Clinton Proposes Fine, Excise to Halt Youth Smoking
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Clinton hopes to stomp out youth smoking by fining the tobacco industry for selling tobacco to minors and raising the price of cigarettes, the White House said on Friday.
The measures will be included in Clinton's budget for fiscal 2001, which will be announced on Monday.
``Every year, more than 400,000 Americans die from tobacco-related diseases; nearly 90 percent of them started smoking as children,'' the White House said in a statement.
The statement said the administration hopes to cut youth smoking in half by charging the tobacco industry for every underage smoker.
It said a $3,000 ``assessment fee'' for every smoker under age 18 would be put in place starting in 2004 if youth smoking has not been cut in half and would remain in effect until the youth smoking reduction goal had been met.
``These youth smoking assessments will provide a strong incentive for tobacco companies to reduce sales to minors and eliminate advertising encouraging children to smoke,'' the statement said.
In addition, the budget includes a 25 cent-per-pack excise beginning in fiscal 2001, to raise further the prices of tobacco products from the 45 cent increase agreed to by the states and the industry in 1998.
``In addition to raising the price of cigarettes by 25 cent a pack, the administration's budget will include comparable increases in the price of other tobacco products such as smokeless tobacco and cigars, and will move an already legislated five cents per pack cigarette increase from January 1, 2002 to October 1, 2000,'' it said.
The new budget will also include a proposal, at a cost of about $66 million over five years, to ensure every state Medicaid program covers both prescription and non-prescription drugs that help people stop smoking.
It earmarks $106 million in funding to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to support tobacco prevention programs in states and local communities.
The anti-smoking proposal also includes $39 million for the Food and Drug Administration to help enforce the laws preventing youth under age 18 from purchasing tobacco products.