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House Republicans Pledge to Draft a New Tobacco Bill

House Republicans Pledge to Draft a New Tobacco Bill

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’ licenses.

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 antismoking/antidrug campaign.

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