May. 20 1998
Washington, DC - More than 1,000 kids gathered at the U.S. Capitol today to call on the Senate to pass comprehensive tobacco control legislation now. The kids also unveiled a giant report card that will assess Congress’ action on tobacco control legislation. “The goal today was to remind Congress that this debate is about kids,” CAMPAIGN President Bill Novelli said. “For decades the tobacco companies have targeted young people and the results have been devastating. Of the 3,000 kids who become regular smokers every day, 1,000 will die prematurely from tobacco-related disease. Comprehensive tobacco control legislation is needed now to end this deadly trend and save lives.” To dramatize the number of kids who will die from tobacco-related disease, one-third of the kids at today’s rally wore different color T-shirts. The kids also rang bells in unison to show their support for comprehensive tobacco control legislation and delivered individual report cards printed on slate chalkboards to members of the Senate. The Capitol Hill rally followed another plea for tobacco control by the President and the Vice President at a White House event attended by the kids. The kids were joined on Capitol Hill by Senator John McCain (R-AZ), chief sponsor of a tobacco control measure moving through the Senate; Senator Kent Conrad (D-ND), a leading advocate for comprehensive legislation; U.S. Olympic Gold Medalist and CAMPAIGN FOR TOBACCO-FREE KIDS national spokesperson Tara Lipinski; and several of the CAMPAIGN FOR TOBACCO-FREE KIDS’ 1998 Youth Advocates of the Year: Emily Broxterman of Overland Park, KS; Michael Higgins of Monroeville, New Jersey; and Deanna Durrett of Louisville, KY. “Congress really has an easy choice: stand with America’s parents and kids or stand with the tobacco industry,” Lipinski said. “If members of Congress want to stand with kids, they will pass comprehensive legislation that ends youth marketing, makes tobacco more expensive and less accessible, and educates kids about the dangers of smoking. If they want to stand with the tobacco industry, they will pass weak legislation, or do nothing at all.” The giant report card issued to Congress at the event grades members’ performance in a number of key areas, including making tobacco control a priority, telling the truth about tobacco control legislation, enacting a comprehensive tobacco solution and protecting kids and saving lives. Congress has been given question marks in all four areas because members have yet to take the action needed to determine whether they will earn a passing grade: standing up to the tobacco industry by quickly passing comprehensive tobacco control legislation to save lives. After the rally, student representatives will hand deliver chalkboard versions of the report cards to each senator’s office. “By taking on the tobacco industry, I’m doing everything I can to help stop kids from starting to smoke,” said 1998 National Youth Advocate of the Year Emily Broxterman. “Now it is time for Congress to do everything it can to save lives and protect kids from tobacco. But just in case Congress isn’t sure what needs to be done in order to save lives and protect kids, we’ve put together a Tobacco Report Card. Right now, all the grades are question marks, but after the Senate and House cast their votes, we’ll know whether members of Congress pass or fail the tobacco control test.” The CAMPAIGN FOR TOBACCO-FREE KIDS is the largest initiative ever undertaken to decrease youth tobacco use in the United States. Its mandates are to focus the nation’s attention and action on keeping tobacco marketing from seducing children and making tobacco less accessible to kids.