[Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: William J. Clinton (1995, Book II)]
[August 10, 1995]
[Pages 1237-1246]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office www.gpo.gov]

The President's News Conference
August 10, 1995

Teenage Smoking

    The President. Good afternoon. Today I am announcing broad executive 
action to protect the young people of the United States from the awful 
dangers of tobacco.
    Over the years, we have learned more and more about the dangers of 
addictive substances to our young people. In the sixties and seventies 
we came to realize the threat drugs posed to young Americans. In the 
eighties we came to grips with the awful problem of drunk driving among 
young people. It is time to take a third step to free our teenagers from 
addiction and dependency.
    Adults are capable of making their own decisions about whether to 
smoke. But we all know that children are especially susceptible to the 
deadly temptation of tobacco and its skillful marketing. Today, and 
every day this year, 3,000 young people will begin to smoke. One 
thousand of them ultimately will die of cancer, emphysema, heart 
disease, and other diseases caused by smoking. That's more than a 
million vulnerable young people a year being hooked on nicotine that 
ultimately could kill them.
    Therefore, by executive authority, I will restrict sharply the 
advertising, promotion, distribution, and marketing of cigarettes to 
teenagers. I do this on the basis of the best available scientific 
evidence, the findings of the American Medical Association, the American 
Cancer Society, the American Heart Association, the American Lung 
Association, the Centers for Disease Control. Fourteen months of study 
by the Food and Drug Administration confirms what we all know: 
Cigarettes and smokeless tobacco are harmful, highly addictive, and 
aggressively marketed to our young people. The evidence is overwhelming, 
and the threat is immediate.
    Our children face a health crisis that is getting worse. One-third 
more 8th-graders and one-quarter more 10th-graders are smoking today 
than 4 years ago. One out of five high school seniors is a daily smoker. 
We need to act, and we must act now, before another generation of 
Americans is condemned to fight a difficult and grueling personal battle 
with an addiction that will cost millions of them their lives.
    Adults make their own decisions about whether or not to smoke. 
Relatively few people start to smoke past their teens. Many adults have 
quit; many have tried and failed. But we all know that teenagers are 
especially susceptible to pressures, pressure to the manipulation of 
mass media advertising, the pressure of the seduction of skilled 
marketing campaigns aimed at exploiting their insecurities and 
uncertainties about life.
    When Joe Camel tells young children that smoking is cool, when 
billboards tell teens that smoking will lead to true romance, when 
Virginia Slims tells adolescents that cigarettes may make them thin and 
glamorous, then our children need our wisdom, our guidance, and our 
experience. We are their parents, and it is up to us to protect them.
    So today I am authorizing the Food and Drug Administration to 
initiate a broad series of steps all designed to stop sales and 
marketing of cigarettes and smokeless tobacco to children. As a result, 
the following steps will be taken. First, young people will have to 
prove their age with an I.D. card to buy cigarettes. Second, cigarette

[[Page 1238]]

vending machines which circumvent any ban on sales to kids will be 
prohibited. Third, schools and playgrounds will be free of tobacco 
advertising on billboards in their neighborhoods. Fourth, images such as 
Joe Camel will not appear on billboards or in ads in publications that 
reach substantial numbers of children and teens. Fifth, teens won't be 
targeted by any marketing gimmicks, ranging from single cigarette sales 
to T-shirts, gym bags, and sponsorship of sporting events. And finally, 
the tobacco industry must fund and implement an annual $150 million 
campaign aimed at stopping teens from smoking through educational 
    Now, these are all commonsense steps. They don't ban smoking; they 
don't bar advertising. We do not, in other words, seek to address 
activities that seek to sell cigarettes only to adults. We are stepping 
in to protect those who need our help, our vulnerable young people. And 
the evidence of increasing smoking in the last few years is plain and 
    Now, nobody much likes Government regulation. And I would prefer it 
if we could have done this in some other way. The only other way I can 
think of is if Congress were to write these restrictions into law. They 
could do that. And if they do, this rule could become unnecessary. But 
it is wrong to believe that we can take a voluntary approach to this 
problem. And absent congressional action, and in the presence of a 
massive marketing and lobbying campaign by cigarette companies aimed at 
our children, clearly, I have no alternative but to do everything I can 
to bring this assault to a halt.
    The issue has touched all of us in personal ways. We all know 
friends or family members whose lives were shortened because of their 
involvement with tobacco. The Vice President's sister, a heavy smoker 
who started as a teen, died of lung cancer. It is that kind of pain that 
I seek to spare other families and young children. Less smoking means 
less cancer, less illness, longer lives, a stronger America. Acting 
together we can make a difference. With this concerted plan targeted at 
those practices that especially prey upon our children, we can save 
lives, and we will.
    To those who produce and market cigarettes, I say today, take 
responsibility for your actions. Sell your products only to adults. Draw 
the line on children. Show by your deeds as well as your words that you 
recognize that it is wrong as well as illegal to hook one million 
children a year on tobacco.
    Terry [Terence Hunt, Associated Press].
    Q. Mr. President, with your decision on tobacco you're taking on one 
of the biggest cash crops in a region where you've already got major 
political problems. Are you writing off the South for next year's 
elections? And isn't this is a blow to other Democratic candidates in 
tobacco States?
    The President. Well, first of all, the most important thing is that 
there is an epidemic among our children. You've got a third more 8th-
graders, a quarter more 10th-graders smoking than there were 10 years 
ago. Whatever the political consequences, a thousand kids a day are 
beginning a habit which will probably shorten their lives. I mean, that 
is the issue. And I believe that is the issue everywhere.
    I believe there are tobacco farmers in the States which grow 
tobacco, who have been involved in it a hundred years or more--their 
families--who don't want their kids to start smoking. We're not talking 
about whether they have a right to grow tobacco or reap the paltry 4\1/
2\ cents, which is all they get out of a pack of cigarettes. We're 
talking about whether we are going to do what we know is the right thing 
to do to save the lives of America's children. And I think it is more 
important than any political consequence.
    Helen [Helen Thomas, United Press International].


    Q. Mr. President, the war in Bosnia is widening. How long is the 
world, particularly the Europeans who have been there in the past, how 
long are they going to stand--we all are going to stand by and watch 
this barbarism on both sides? And what are your new initiatives to end 
this suffering?
    The President. Well, first of all, let me briefly review what our 
objectives are. Our objectives are to minimize suffering, to stop the 
war from spreading, to preserve the integrity of a Bosnian state. We 
have promoted the Muslim-Croat Federation. We have plainly succeeded in 
limiting the war. And except when the United Nations and NATO had not 
done what they said they would do, we have saved lives.
    This is an important moment in Bosnia, and it could be a moment of 
real promise. Because of the military actions of the last few days, the

[[Page 1239]]

situation on the ground has changed. There is some uncertainty and 
instability. It could go either way. But I think it's a time when we 
should try to make a move to make peace.
    Now, since the fall of Srebrenica and Zepa, we have tried to do two 
things: first of all, to strengthen the presence of the United Nations 
through the Rapid Reaction Force of the French, the British, and the 
Dutch, which we are supporting; and through getting a clearer chain of 
command and a stronger, broader use of authority for NATO to have air 
power where necessary where the protected areas are threatened.
    The second thing we want to do is to see whether or not some 
diplomatic solution can be brought to bear that would be fair and decent 
and just and that would take advantage of this moment where people are 
reassessing their various positions. And that's what Mr. Lake is doing 
in Europe. We are consulting with all of our allies, and we're going to 
do the very best we can. I think we need to try to make a decent and 
good peace here because, ultimately, that's the answer to all the 
questions you ask.
    Q. [Inaudible]--you have new ideas?
    The President. Well, we're exploring some ideas with the Europeans. 
I will say again what I said from the first day I came here: I do not 
believe it is right to impose peace on people. I don't think in the end 
you get a lasting peace. So the United States does not seek to impose 
peace. But we're exploring some different ideas. We don't have a set 
map; we don't have a set position. We have some ideas that the new 
events may make possible, and we're discussing it with our allies.
    Brit [Brit Hume, ABC News].

Teenage Smoking

    Q. Mr. President, in view of the powerful evidence of the dangers of 
smoking which you cited, wouldn't it have been more logical to impose an 
outright ban instead of a regulatory partial step which has the effect 
of getting the Federal Government into the business of regulating the 
size of print in advertising?
    The President. Well, first I don't know that the Federal Government 
will regulate the size of print; we regulate the warning labels. And of 
course, there is a proposal here on advertising to try to deal with 
restricting access to billboard advertising and others.
    But I think it would be wrong to ban cigarettes outright because, 
number one, it's not illegal for adults to use them. Tens of millions of 
adults do use them, and I think it would be as ineffective as 
prohibition was. But I think to focus on our children is the right thing 
to do. Purchasing of cigarettes by young people, children, is supposed 
to be illegal in all 50 States, but they do it regularly. These fine 
young people here were with me this morning, and one of them talked 
about how he bought cigarette pack after cigarette pack after cigarette 
pack out of vending machines to try to demonstrate to his local 
legislators that the laws were a sham. These will not make the laws a 
sham. This will enable us to save young people's lives.


    Q. Mr. President, has there been any progress in getting China to 
free human rights activist, Harry Wu? And related to that, will Mrs. 
Clinton be going to China in September to attend the U.N. Conference on 
    The President. On the first question, we're obviously very concerned 
about Harry Wu and following his case very closely. And I think the 
situation is in a position where the less that is said about it right 
now, the better. But it's a very important issue to the United States, 
and I think to people throughout the world.
    No decision has yet been made about whether the First Lady will go 
to China. But I think it's important for the American people to 
understand that this conference on women is a United Nations-sponsored 
conference that they decided to hold in China. It is a very important 
thing in its own right, and the United States will be represented there 
with a very strong delegation, whether she goes or not. And I think it's 
important that we be represented there.
    Yes, Wolf [Wolf Blitzer, CNN].


    Q. Mr. President, the situation in Iraq seems to be somewhat fluid 
right now with the defection of two of Saddam Hussein's daughters, two 
of his sons-in-law, his oldest grandchild to Jordan. And King Hussein's 
granting political asylum to all of these people. First of all, can you 
assess what is happening in Baghdad right now? And have you offered 
additional assurances to Jordan that the United States will provide 
security if there is a threat from Iraq?

[[Page 1240]]

    The President. Well, as soon as the defections occurred, King 
Hussein contacted us, and I called him back as quickly as I could on 
Tuesday evening and we had a long talk about it. I think what these 
defections demonstrate is just how difficult things are within Iraq now 
and how out of touch Saddam Hussein has become with reality, how 
difficult things are for his people. I also think this evidence supports 
the strong and firm position the United States has taken of not lifting 
the sanctions until Iraq fully complies with all the United Nations 
resolutions. I think that is--it's clear that we have done the right 
    Now, with regard to your second question, King Hussein's decision, 
located where he is, to grant asylum to those individuals was clearly an 
act of real courage. And I have assured him and told him that we would 
stand behind Jordan. We owe it to the people who are our partners in 
peace in the Middle East to stand behind them, and we have already made 
it clear that if Iraq threatens its neighbors or violates United Nations 
resolutions, we would take appropriate action. I think we have to do so 
in this case.
    Q. Any contingency steps being taken?
    The President. Well, I think you saw when Kuwait was threatened a 
few months ago, we are quite well-organized, and we have thought through 
what our--various scenarios there and how we might move. But beyond 
that, I don't want to say. And I don't want to raise a red flag. I'm 
just saying we know that Saddam Hussein has been unpredictable in the 
past, we know this must be a very unsettling development, and it should 
be clear that the United States considers Jordan our ally and entitled 
to our protection if their security is threatened as a result of this 

Teenage Smoking

    Q. Mr. President, given the fact that there's been a 20-year war 
against drugs, which are illegal for everybody, which has produced, at 
best, mixed results, and given the fact that anybody who has kids know 
that the more you prohibit something, the more attractive it often 
becomes, what makes you think that you think you can do any better in 
the war against cigarettes than we've done against drugs?
    The President. Well, first of all, let me say that--let me take on 
your premise here. There have been sustained periods of years in our 
country and in recent history when drug use has gone down in all 
categories of drugs, among all ages of people without regard to race or 
income. Unfortunately, today the picture is somewhat mixed because 
casual drug use among young people seems to be going up in areas where 
they feel a certain level of hopelessness. And we intend to reassert our 
efforts there.
    But it's simply not true that cultural changes and legal bars 
together cannot work to reduce consumption. With regard to cigarettes, 
we have seen cultural changes leading to reduction in consumption. But 
what we see among young people is adults quitting and young people 
increasing their usage. If you make it clearly illegal, more 
inaccessible, you reduce the lure of advertising and then you have an 
affirmative campaign, a positive campaign, so that you don't just say 
no, you give young people information and make it the smart, the cool, 
the hip thing to do to take care of yourself and keep yourself healthy 
and alive. I believe there is every evidence from what has happened in 
drugs and in many other areas that we will see a dramatic decline in 
smoking among young people. I think we can do that.
    And I think you see--there have been a lot of cultural changes to 
that effect in other areas. You see some States that have done it right 
have big increase in the use of seatbelts. Drunk driving goes down 
dramatically in some areas with the combination of the right sort of 
enforcement and the right sort of publicity. So I believe--I just don't 
accept your premise. I think we'll have a big dent in this problem.

Appropriations Legislation

    Q. Mr. President, the House has cut $20 billion in discretionary 
spending for next year. Will they have to return some of those cuts to 
avoid you vetoing some of their appropriations bills?
    The President. Yes. [Laughter]

Whitewater Hearings

    Q. Mr. President, on Whitewater, you've said in the past that as far 
as you know everything as far as major evidence that is going to come 
out is out. We now face the prospect though of hearings going into 1996. 
Do you view this as pure politics? Do you worry about the overall shadow 
it has cast, merely the appearance of wrongdoing over the White House?
    The President. I don't have anything new to add to what I've already 
said about that. I will

[[Page 1241]]

reiterate, when I started this whole episode I said I would cooperate 
fully; I have cooperated fully. There is nothing else for me to do. I 
have to spend my energies and time being President, and that's what I'm 
doing my best to do.
    Yes, Mara [Mara Liasson, National Public Radio].

Political Reform and Ross Perot

    Q. Mr. President, what message do you want Senator Dodd and Mr. 
McLarty to take to Ross Perot when they go down there this weekend? And 
also, do you feel that Ross Perot's contribution to the issue of 
political reform is significant enough that you would consider 
appointing him to the bipartisan commission, should it get established?
    The President. The answer to the second question--let me answer that 
first--the answer to the second question is, yes, I would consider doing 
that, but first, the Speaker has got to answer my letter or see John 
Gardner or Doris Kearns Goodwin or do something to respond to the 
handshake we made in New Hampshire. Of all the strange things that 
happen in Washington--and I know people think that all the rules are 
different here than they are for anybody anywhere else in America--but 
even here, when you shake hands with somebody in broad daylight and say 
you're going to do something, you ought to at least act like your going 
to do it. [Laughter] Where I come from, you know, if kids did that, 
their mamas wouldn't let them have dinner before--they got spanked, when 
I was growing up I mean, this is an amazing thing. So, yes, I would.
    The second part of the question was what will their message be. 
Their message will be: Number one, that the things that Ross Perot and 
Bill Clinton advocated in '92 had a lot of overlap, and we have made 
significant progress in implementing 80 percent of the things that Ross 
Perot campaigned for in 1992; two, a lot of the things that we haven't 
done are because of obstruction in Congress, and I mention only two, the 
line-item veto and political reform; and third, our budget is more 
consistent with the budget priorities outlined by Ross Perot and his 
campaign in 1992, that is, balance the budget but increase investment in 
education, research, and development, technology, and defense 
    So, we've got a record message. We've got a present conflict 
message. We've got a message to ask them to come help us to support 
meaningful political reform and the right kind of balanced budget.

Tobacco Industry

    Q. Mr. President, you noted in your speech in Charlotte yesterday 
that children follow what we do more than what we say. And I wonder what 
you think the message is when, on the one hand, the Government cracks 
down on teen smoking, on the other hand, it spends perhaps $25 million a 
year subsidizing the growth of tobacco, and when you yourself continue 
to smoke those big old cigars. [Laughter]
    The President. Well first of all, as you know, I'm allergic to 
cigars, so I don't smoke many anymore. But I smoke a handful a year 
probably, and I probably shouldn't. And I try not to do it in any way 
that sets a bad example. But I plead guilty to that.
    On the tobacco program, if it is self-financing--and I have always 
supported the tobacco program. It is essentially a self financing 
program. The question is, do you want this tobacco grown by family 
farmers, or do you want it grown by big corporations if it's a self-
financing program? I would not favor a large taxpayer outlay for it. But 
a self-financing program, essentially which is what that is, has been 
designed to preserve the structure of family farms and the culture of 
the family farms rather than let the big tobacco companies grow it 
themselves and turn all those folks into hired hands. I have thought, 
since it was going to be grown one way or the other, the family farm 
structure was a better one. I don't think that sends a signal that we 
think young people ought to smoke cigarettes.

Drug Cartels

    Q. [Inaudible]--the Colombian Government has captured some of the 
top leaders of both cartels, and there's been friction between your 
government and the Samper government when he came in. My first question 
is, do you think they are doing everything they can? And the second 
question is, how worried are you that as the Colombian cartel wanes in 
influence, Mexican cartels will pick up the breach?
    The President. Well, first of all, I want to support the statements 
made by the DEA Director in my administration, Tom Considine. We have 
worked very hard with the Colombians and with others in South America, 
and you see the

[[Page 1242]]

results in the last several months. We have had more major drug dealers 
arrested than in any previous similar time in our history, I believe. 
And we're on the verge of breaking this Cali cartel. It's been great 
cooperation; we've worked hard. It's making a difference.
    Secondly, as long as the raw crops can be grown and processed and 
distributed, we will have a constant battle, as long as there's demand 
in the United States, to keep any vacuum from being filled. And we are 
exploring today what the problems created by our successes might be, 
that is, if we continue to break down existing cartels, who will take up 
the slack and how can we prevent it.

Teenage Smoking

    Q. Mr. President, last week you said that you did not want to 
advance a tobacco strategy that would get caught up in the courts and 
prevent any kind of action from taking place for years. Now you seem to 
have embarked on that strategy. Tobacco companies have already today 
filed suit against your proposals. Why did you determine a voluntary 
effort in concert with the tobacco companies would not work? And is 
there any hope for some sort of compromise, some sort of either 
compromise with the tobacco companies or congressional action before you 
implement these regulations?
    The President. Well, first of all, I had hoped that the tobacco 
companies would agree to support these restrictions and to put them in 
law. And it's still not too late for that. The FDA--Dr. Kessler has 
announced today a rulemaking procedure on the assumption of jurisdiction 
and on the specifics that I just outlined. If the tobacco companies 
accept those and this Congress will write them into law, then you will 
not have a long regulatory proceeding. But you will have immediate, 
immediate, effects. That is, if they would rather have a law than 
Federal regulation, the FDA Director, Dr. Kessler, and I would rather 
have an immediate impact on teen smoking, not 2 years of litigation and 
then start the work. So it is not too late for that.
    But I am against a voluntary plan. I'm against it for several 
reasons. First of all, there would be no way to enforce it. Secondly, 
the history of voluntary agreements with the tobacco industry is not 
good, to put it mildly. And thirdly, even if they tried to adhere to it, 
I don't believe they could legally do so.
    Let me just give you one example. Suppose you were in the vending 
machine business and you sued the tobacco companies for deciding 
together that they were going to not let your vending machines go 
anywhere. Without a legal requirement there's a good chance that could 
be held in a court of law to be a restraint of trade. So I think even if 
they tried to do it, they couldn't do it.
    So we have to have a mandatory system. But I would just as soon have 
an act of Congress. Dr. Kessler agrees because we've got an epidemic of 
teen smoking, and far better to start right now as soon as we can pass a 
law than wait until we wade through all this litigation.

Airline Safety

    Q. Mr. President, there was a scary breakdown yesterday in the air 
traffic control system in the Western United States, and we've had 
similar incidents in past months and recent years. Can you tell the 
American people that the FAA is doing everything possible to preserve 
the safety of the flying public, or do you see that new measures need to 
be taken?
    The President. I can tell you that I have asked that question 
repeatedly since I have been President, and I have worked very hard on 
making sure that we are moving to do everything we can constantly to 
make sure that the air traffic control system is as safe as possible.
    We also, as you know, have ordered some new measures to be taken to 
promote airline security, which the Secretary of Transportation 
announced just in the last couple of days. And I do want to emphasize to 
the American people because I know there's been a lot of discussion 
about it, there was no specific incident that prompted me to make the 
decision to try to increase security around airports. But the overall 
conditions, it seemed to me, dictated that we do that.
    And I think that this country has been very strong against terrorism 
through military action, imposing sanctions, stopping sanctions from 
being lifted, stopping terrorist incidents before they occur, arresting 
terrorists shortly after they commit acts. This is a part of our ongoing 
effort to protect the American people from that.
    And parenthetically, I would like to say I certainly wish the 
Congress would pass the antiterrorism legislation which was promised to 
me on Memorial Day. That would also help us in this regard.

[[Page 1243]]

Teenage Drinking

    Q. In going after teenage smoking, Mr. President, did you consider 
including alcohol abuse as part of that? I know you mentioned drunk 
driving in your opening remarks, but alcohol among young people is 
thought to be as much of a problem as smoking is.
    The President. First of all, it is far less accessible. It's harder 
to get. What we have advocated there, and I hope the Congress will 
adopt, is a national zero tolerance for alcohol among young drivers. If 
we go to zero tolerance among young drivers, I think it will make a 
difference. Now, I noted last week--and I would like to give the State 
credit for it--one State adopted zero tolerance this last week. We are 
now up to 27 States that have done it on their own. But I think zero 
tolerance is the best thing to do.
    Sarah [Sarah McClendon, McClendon News].

Opposition From Congress

    Q. Mr. President, there's a move on Capitol Hill among some right-
wing Senators--Faircloth of North Carolina--and also joined by--and 
D'Amato, of course, New York--and several left-wing Democrats, real 
liberal left-wing Democrats to try to get you out of office this month. 
They're going to try to do that by embarrassing you so that you will 
resign. Would you resign your office under any circumstances? [Laughter]
    The President. Well, if you promise to run off with me, I might. 
[Laughter] But otherwise I can't think of any reason. [Laughter]

1996 Election

    Q. Mr. President, continuing on the political mien, if we might. 
[Laughter] A year from now the Republican Presidential convention opens. 
Looking at the electoral vote now, it seems to be a lot of political 
experts say that you're in trouble in the South, in trouble in the West, 
it's really going to be an uphill battle for reelection. How do you 
assess your position at this time?
    The President. Well, first of all, I don't think my position at this 
time amounts to anything because the world will turn around. At this 
time, when I started running for President--I hadn't even declared for 
President this time 4 years ago, and everybody said the incumbent 
President could not be defeated. So I don't think anyone knows, and I 
think all this is idle speculation.
    I will tell you this: I have done my best to do what I said I would 
do when I ran. This is the second anniversary of our economic plan. We 
passed our reconciliation bill on this day 2 years ago. Theirs is still 
not passed. And the people who are now in charge of the Congress said 
that it would be the end of the world; we would have a terrible 
recession; it would bankrupt the country; it would be awful. And 2 years 
later, we have 7 million jobs, 2\1/2\ million new homeowners, 1\1/2\ 
million new small businesses, a record, a record number of new self-made 
millionaires, a very high stock market, very low inflation.
    Now, this is the first time in history we've had this kind of surge 
that hasn't also raised the incomes of ordinary people because of the 
new realities which we face. So now, economic policy must be seen as a 
two-step, not a one-step process. We've got to grow the economy and 
raise incomes. That's why I want to raise the minimum wage. That's why I 
want to give every unemployed worker or underemployed worker the right 
to 2 years of education at the local community college. That's why I'm 
trying to have a tax cut that's focused on childrearing and education, 
to raise incomes.
    But I believe when the record of this administration is made, in 
every area, whether it's this or in fighting crime or protecting the 
environment or educating our people or trying to prepare the world for 
the end of the post-cold-war era and a new era of cooperation, I believe 
the American people will listen, and then they'll make their own 
judgments about it. But I don't think anybody can know what's going to 
happen a year and a half from now.

Teenage Smoking

    Q. Mr. President, are you sure you wouldn't like to pledge today not 
to smoke cigars anymore to set an example? [Laughter]
    The President. Well, you mean should I go from five or six down to 
zero a year? Maybe so. But I don't think that's the point. The point I 
want to make is, number one, cigars and pipes were not found by the FDA 
to be part of this. Did you know that?
    Number two, the issue is, for me--I try to set a good example. I try 
never to do it when people see. I admitted that I did do it when Captain 
O'Grady was found because I was so

[[Page 1244]]

happy. It was a form of celebration. But I don't think you should let 
that become the issue. The issue is whether the children are smoking 
cigarettes in this country.

Nuclear Testing by France

    Q. Mr. President, on the French nuclear testing, the French are now 
saying they will agree to a zero threshold for nuclear tests in the 
Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. Will the U.S. concur? Do you think the French 
should cancel their tests? And very importantly, has the U.S. agreed to 
share technology with the French so that they can develop their own 
computer simulations and not have to test?
    The President. I applaud the French statement today. It will make it 
much easier for us to get a comprehensive test ban. I do not think they 
should resume testing, but they know that. That's a difference between 
us and them and most of the rest of the world and them. And we will have 
a statement about our own policy in the very near future, but I don't 
want to make it today.
    Press Secretary Mike McCurry. Let's make this one the last question.

Teenage Smoking

    Q. Mr. President, the steps that you outlined today are tailored 
very carefully to curb the sale of tobacco to young people. My question 
is, if they're implemented, will the FDA retain power that would allow 
them at a future date to ban or curb sale of tobacco to adults?
    The President. Well, of course, that's what the tobacco companies 
are worried about, I guess. Our belief is that this is a pediatric 
disease. This is a problem for children, that when tobacco is lawful, it 
would be wrong for a Government agency to try to in any way restrict the 
access of adults to it if it is lawful. So the answer is, I don't know 
what the law would be because, in this case, I'm not the lawyer for the 
agency. I can't give you a lawful answer. I can tell you that the policy 
of this Government is that the focus should be on our children, their 
health and their welfare. That is the focus.
    If there is a worry underlying the question you asked, there is an 
answer to that worry: Put it in the law. Let's have the tobacco 
companies come in. Let's talk to the Members of Congress from the 
tobacco-growing States. Let's pass it into law. Pass these restrictions. 
Put them into law. Do it now. Then we won't have all these lawsuits, and 
we will begin immediately, right now, to protect the children of this 
country. That is the answer.
    Yes, Deborah [Deborah Mathis, Gannett News Service].

Whitewater Hearings

    Q. Mr. President, there has been a parade of you and your wife's 
friends, associates, aides, former aides on Capitol Hill lately in both 
the Senate and House Whitewater hearings. How does it make you feel to 
see so many of your old friends and associates being grilled, in effect? 
And have you been keeping track of the hearings, and if so, how?
    The President.  The answer to the second question is, not really, 
Occasionally I see a clip or something, but I don't watch television 
very much, except late at night for a few minutes before I to go bed. So 
I haven't had a chance to keep up with it. My impression is that they 
have all acquitted themselves quite well, and I've been proud of them. 
But I don't have anything to say on the underlying substance beyond what 
I've already said.

Teenage Smoking

    Q. Mr. President, on the FDA rule again, a coalition of advertisers 
is filing suit today saying that for a legal product, your rule would go 
far beyond any precedent in restricting first amendment rights. Is there 
any precedent that you could cite that would be equivalent in its reach 
into the first amendment? And if not, are you not concerned about that 
    The President.  First of all, nobody who's ever held this office 
loved the first amendment any more than I do. And no one has ever felt 
both edges of it any more than I have. I believe in the first amendment. 
That's what my speech about religious freedom was about the other day. I 
believe in it.
    But I would remind you of just a few basic facts. It is illegal for 
children to smoke cigarettes. How then can it be legal for people to 
advertise to children to get them to smoke cigarettes? And does anybody 
seriously doubt that a lot of this advertisement is designed to reach 
children so we get new customers for the tobacco companies as the old 
customers disappear? It cannot be a violation of the freedom of speech 
in this country to say that you cannot advertise to entice people to do 
something which they cannot legally do. So I just don't

[[Page 1245]]

buy the first amendment argument, it's just not true.
    And by the way, that is why--to go back to an earlier question--the 
FDA ran the risk of having a rather complex rule to make it clear that 
there should be some freedom left, some considerable freedom left to 
advertise to adults.
    Yes, ma'am.


    Q. Mr. President, your administration has said on many occasions 
that you're going to adhere to the one-China policy. However, the two 
sides of Taiwan's fate obviously have different views on what this one 
China is. And you are the one who made the decision to allow President 
Teng-hui to come to the United States, and China is very, very unhappy 
now. So I wonder, how are you going to balance between a democratic 
Taiwan willing to risk everything to seek international recognition and, 
on the other hand, the very, very important strategic interests between 
the United States and China?
    The President. First of all, we're going to balance them by 
continuing to adhere to the one-China policy. It is the policy of the 
United States; it has been for years; it continues to be.
    Secondly, we are going to do everything we can to make sure that our 
policy is clearly understood in China and in Taiwan. I made the decision 
personally to permit President Li from Taiwan to come into this country 
not as the head of state, not as the head of a government that we had 
recognized but because he wanted to come. I'm sure there were political 
aspects to this, but he asked whether he could come to his college 
reunion, whether he could give speeches, whether he could travel in our 
United States. He is a law-abiding person. We had no grounds on which to 
deny him.
    In the American culture there is a constitutional right to travel 
and a constitutional right to speak. And as a man who has almost never 
missed any of his high school or college reunions, I just felt I ought 
to give him the same opportunity. It was not an abrogation of our one-
China policy in any way. It was a recognition of something that's 
special in our culture about the rights we accord individuals who obey 
our laws and comport themselves appropriately.

Welfare Reform

    Q. Mr. President, as you know, the welfare reform bill has been 
delayed in the Senate. I wonder how optimistic you are that welfare 
reform can pass this year and to what extent welfare reform has been 
wrapped up in Republican Presidential politics.
    The President. Well, it plainly has been wrapped up to some extent 
in Republican Presidential politics, and that's bad because 85 percent 
of the American people want it. As I think Senator Dole acknowledged a 
day or so ago, I made a personal appeal to him to try to work with me to 
get a welfare reform bill out and to do it this year.
    What do we want out of welfare reform? We want work. We want time 
limits. We want responsible parenting. Those are the three things we 
want. Can we get there from where we are? I think we can. I think that 
Senator Dole has moved somewhat away from the extreme right of his 
party. Senator Daschle, Senator Mikulski, and Senator Breaux have 
offered a bill which has united the Democrats in moving away from the 
conventional wisdom toward welfare reform. And what we need to do over 
this break is that folks need to get together and figure out how we can 
put these approaches together and come out with a bill which promotes 
work, which promotes time limits, which promotes responsible parenting. 
I cannot believe we can't reach an agreement here.
    Meanwhile, I will keep trying to get more States involved. You know, 
I have 32 States now that I've given permission to get out from under 
the Federal rules to promote welfare reform. And I would remind you I 
have offered all 50 States within 30 days the right to require young 
teen mothers to stay at home and stay in school to get checks, to put 
time limits and work requirements on welfare reform, and to allow the 
States to convert the welfare benefits and the food stamp benefits into 
wage supplements to get private employers to hire people in the private 
sector. Every State in the country could do that within the next 30 
days. They just call us and send a request; we do it.
    So we'll keep working, but we need the legislation, especially 
because we have to have national standards for tough child support 
enforcement that we cannot implement without the law.
    I think our time is--one more question. Yes, go ahead.

[[Page 1246]]

Legislative Priorities

    Q. Before the tobacco regulations came up this news conference was 
billed as your chance to give a farewell message to Congress. If you 
could send them a postcard from Jackson next week--[laughter]--what 
would you list as your top three or four priorities?
    The President. We need to pass a decent budget that balances the 
budget but doesn't do it on the backs of elderly people who don't have 
enough to live on by exploding their Medicare costs; it doesn't walk 
away from our commitment to education, the education of our young people 
from Head Start to more affordable college loans through national 
service; that doesn't undermine our common commitment to the 
environment. We can find common ground on this budget that brings the 
American people together and moves us forward.
    The second thing I would say is, we need to pass welfare reform. We 
need to pass welfare reform--work, time limits, responsible parenting.
    The third thing I would say is, let's get to work on the unfinished 
agenda here, pass the antiterrorism bill, the line-item veto, appoint 
the political reform commission. Let's get after it. Let's do the things 
that we all are for, we keep saying we're for. Let's deliver for the 
American people.
    Let me say in closing that my family and I are leaving on Tuesday 
for Wyoming, and I want you to enjoy your vacation.
    Thank you, and God bless you. Thank you.

Note: The President's 101st news conference began at 1:32 p.m. in the 
East Room at the White House.