OLYMPIA - Washington Attorney General Christine Gregoire today supported President Clinton¹s proposal to regulate tobacco as an addictive drug.
"This is a bold action by the Clinton administration and it is absolutely necessary to help prevent thousands of Washington children from facing a life of addiction, smoking-related health problems and early death," Gregoire said.
On June 5, Gregoire filed suit in King County Superior Court against the nation¹s leading tobacco companies. She said the President's announcement will have no impact on the state¹s lawsuit, but noted both actions are intended to change the conduct of tobacco companies. The lawsuit also seeks to recover damages incurred by the state for increased health care costs and to penalize tobacco companies for anti-competitive conduct.
"This isn't about taking away the right of adults to smoke. This is about the tobacco industry preying on our kids with the certain knowledge they will addict a new generation of smokers to replace the 400,000 smokers who die each year," Gregoire said.
Each month in Washington about 1,800 kids begin smoking and every year about 8,000 Washington residents die prematurely from smoking.
Gregoire said the proposed FDA rules to limit marketing and access of cigarettes to children "are essential if we want to break the cycle of addiction and the staggering health problems brought on by tobacco."
Supporters of the proposed rules argue that children who smoke have a high risk of addiction and that 90 percent of smokers report they began smoking as teenagers.
"Even though it is illegal to sell cigarettes to minors, the tobacco industry annually spends billions of dollars on advertising which blatantly targets kids. That is the kind of outrageous behavior our lawsuit and these rules are intended to stop," Gregoire said.