REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT
BEFORE THE NATIONAL COUNCIL OF SENIOR CITIZENS
July 2, 1996
One of the things that I tried to do -- it's turned out to be very controversial and I now see why no previous President ever wanted to get into this -- is I believe that we should take strong action to stop the advertising, sales, and transference of cigarettes to children. I think it's wrong.
You talk about saving money. Three thousand children a day smoke -- start smoking -- begin. Three thousand children a day begin. One thousand of them will have their lives shortened because of it. And along the way society will pick up a significant part of the health care bill. Now, that's one way to save money.
Now, I have been amazed at the debate that's injected itself into the national campaign on this issue. I notice that Senator Dole questioned the other day whether or not tobacco was really addictive for everybody. And then, apparently, this morning, when it was -- he was asked about Dr. Koop, who was President Reagan's Surgeon General, a remarkable man, who may be a Republican for all I know -- President Reagan's Surgeon General, but he has been one of our most outspoken advocates of trying to stop smoking among young people -- and this morning Senator Dole suggested that maybe Dr. Koop had been brainwashed by the liberal media. Well, I imagine Dr. Koop was surprised to hear that.
I believe Dr. Koop knows more about the dangers of tobacco than the so-called liberal media or Senator Dole. He's out there fighting for our children, and that's what we need more people to do -- fight for children and not play politics with this issue.
Medicaid today spends at least $10 billion in federal and state funds to pay for treatment for smoking-related illnesses. Now, if we're going to get serious about cutting the costs, that's one way to do it without hurting families. It will help families, it will strengthen families.
Paid for by Clinton/Gore 96 General Committee, Inc.