WASHINGTON--Following the demise of the McCain comprehensive tobacco
bill in the US Senate, House Republicans offered an outline of new,
less extensive antitobacco legislation they plan to draft.
The Republican plan would feature an advertising campaign that offers
an antismoking/antidrug message. It would maintain the current tax
structure and not raise the price of cigarettes. It would provide
penalties for teens caught smoking that include notifying their
parents, community service, and revocation of their drivers
Other proposed provisions would give the Federal Trade Commission new
authority to police tobacco advertising to teens; create federal
guidelines for use by the states in enacting laws penalizing people
who sell tobacco products to teens; and allow states that limit the
fees lawyers can earn in tobacco cases to keep all the proceeds of
their own lawsuits, with none going to the federal government.
The Republican plan, not unexpectedly, drew strong criticism. Vice
President Al Gore called it "a bill written by the tobacco
industry." M. Cass Wheeler, chief executive officer of the
American Heart Association, termed it "a big wimp-out" by
the GOP. "The framework does not clearly give full authority to
the FDA to regulate tobacco products," he said.
Among its criticisms, the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids argues that
the bill as outlined would provide no new funding for its proposed