Clinton/Gore '96



Chicago, Illinois
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.


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