Olympia - March 23, 1998 - Washington Attorney General Chris Gregoire said new figures released by the White House today indicate passage of a comprehensive tobacco bill by Congress could cut the number of teen smokers in Washington by 48,000 over the next five years.
Since about one out of three teens who smoke will die a premature death, the comprehensive tobacco bill is predicted to save about 16,000 Washington children from dying an early death.
The figures were released by Vice President Al Gore as the Clinton administration steps up its effort to get bi-partisan, comprehensive tobacco legislation passed this year by Congress. The legislation is needed to implement a settlement negotiated by Attorneys General last year.
Gregoire was on a conference call Monday morning with other AGs and members of the media as Gore announced a state-by-state analysis of the impact of comprehensive tobacco legislation. "I am glad the White House is increasing the pressure on Congress to act," Gregoire said. "Each day another 3,000 kids start smoking and we can't afford to wait to change tobacco policy in this country."
The Clinton administration is backing a comprehensive approach similar to the settlement approved by the Attorneys General last summer with tobacco companies. According to Gore, the number of teen smokers will decline by seven percent for every ten percent increase in price. The administration also estimates that advertising and marketing restrictions on the industry will reduce teen smoking by another 15 percent.
The administration wants to raise the price of cigarettes by $1.10 a pack by the year 2003 and up to $1.50 a pack within ten years.
According to administration estimates, a comprehensive program could cut teen smoking by 33 percent in Washington state by 2003. Nationwide, Gore estimates that a comprehensive tobacco bill could cut the number of teen smokers by nearly three million over the next five years and save one million kids from a premature death.
"The stakes are too high for our kids," Gregoire said. "We need comprehensive tobacco legislation this year."