Sep. 3 1997
Washington, DC - Today, the United States Senate passed the most important anti-tobacco measure since the airline smoking ban almost a decade ago, and the result is a great victory for America’s kids. The vote on an amendment sponsored by Senators Tom Harkin (D-IA) and John Chafee (R-RI) will ensure that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) can enforce its Rule to keep tobacco out of the hands of minors. It demonstrates the Senate’s commitment to protect children from deadly tobacco products. The Clinton administration requested $34 million to help state and federal officials enforce the FDA Rule provision requiring that stores check the photo identification of anyone attempting to buy tobacco products who appears younger than 27 years of age. By allocating the full $34 million for this program, the Senate has underscored the importance of the FDA’s effort – the first national program ever undertaken to reduce youth access to tobacco. Today’s victory is particularly significant given that smoking among high school seniors is currently at a 17-year high. A review of 13 studies of over-the-counter sales found that minors can illegally buy cigarettes a disturbing 67 percent of the time. And, according to a recent CAMPAIGN survey, 92 percent of the American public supports the FDA’s ID check requirements. Clearly, the majority of the Senate listened to public opinion and voted to protect kids today. The Senate passed the amendment today after an effort to table it was defeated by a 70-28 vote. Passage of the amendment will help reverse the chilling trend of rising youth tobacco use, and is an important step forward in protecting the lives of America’s kids. We congratulate Senators Harkin and Chafee and applaud their colleagues who put kids’ health first.