[Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: William J. Clinton (1995, Book II)]
[August 12, 1995]
[Pages 1256-1257]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office www.gpo.gov]

The President's Radio Address
August 12, 1995

    Good morning. This week I directed the Food and Drug Administration 
to propose stiff restrictions on the advertising, marketing, and sales 
of cigarettes to children, after a 14-month FDA study, an exhaustive 
study which found tobacco addictive, harmful, and readily available to 
young Americans. I did so because sometimes we must act sternly and 
boldly to fulfill our most fundamental moral obligation: Our duty as 
adults to ensure that our children grow up healthy and strong.
    The grim fact is that every single day in America 3,000 new 
teenagers light up for the first time. Most are destined to become 
addicted, and a thousand of them will die before their time from 
diseases caused by tobacco.
    Teenagers don't just happen to smoke. They're the victims of 
billions of dollars of marketing and promotional campaigns designed by 
top psychologists and advertising experts. These campaigns have one 
inevitable consequence: To start children on a lifetime habit of 
addiction to tobacco. And if you don't start smoking as a teen, chances 
are very good you'll never start at all. Somebody has to stop this. 
That's why I decided to act.
    The way the cigarette companies reach children is especially 
effective. They sponsor auto races or tennis matches. The subtle message 
is that smoking can't be that bad for you if it's so intimately involved 
with sports. Well, our plan stops companies from sponsoring events in 
cigarette brand names.
    Stores sell cigarettes in kiddie packs of a handful of cigarettes, 
or even sometimes just one cigarette, so teenagers with very little 
money can buy smokes out of their pocket change. My plan bans that, too. 
Billboards and

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ads in teen magazines show rugged men and glamorous women lighting up 
and blissful couples sharing their cigarettes. The message is: Smoking 
is sexy; it'll make you more attractive; it'll make you happier. My plan 
will ban those manipulative visual images, too.
    Let's be clear: Cigarettes are a legal product, but cigarettes sales 
to minors are illegal in all 50 States. But lots of children smoke in 
all 50 States, getting these small packs or getting the cigarettes out 
of vending machines or sometimes just buying them across the counter. 
And the advertising has a lot to do with it. So let's end the hypocrisy 
of pretending that while sales to teens are illegal, marketing to teens 
is legal. Let's stop pretending that a cartoon camel in a funny costume 
is trying to sell to adults, not children.
    Cigarette companies say they want to reduce teen smoking, but their 
lawyers rush to the courthouse to seek an order blocking our actions. 
Well, that's their right. But it is my duty to safeguard the health and 
the safety of our children. And I won't back down.
    Now I'd like to turn the microphone over to a brave man, Victor 
Crawford. For years Mr. Crawford was a lobbyist for the top tobacco 
companies. He smoked, and tragically, he's now fighting his own battle 
against cancer. I think his comments on the tactics of tobacco 
advertising may be especially helpful.
    Mr. Crawford.
    Victor Crawford. Thank you, President Clinton, for giving me this 
chance to talk to the young people of America. And from the bottom of my 
heart, I thank you for the wonderful things you're doing to protect them 
from smoking. This was an issue you could have easily avoided, but 
instead you did the right thing and took the leadership position.
    Kids, cigarettes are bad for you, and they're killers. I know. I 
used to work for the industry that makes them. I was part of a well-
organized machine that depends on young people like you believing that 
cigarettes are okay. Some of the smartest people in America work at just 
one thing, figuring out how to get you to smoke. As tobacco kills off 
people like me, they need kids like you to replace me.
    As the President has described already, anything goes, any marketing 
gimmick, any trick to make you want to smoke. They talk about peer 
pressure; how do you think that peer pressure starts? We did it through 
our advertising.
    For several years I protected the cigarette industry from anybody 
who wanted to restrict smoking. I fooled a lot of people, and kids, I 
fooled myself, too. I smoked heavily, and I started when I was 13 years 
old. And now in my throat and in my lungs where the smoke used to be, 
there's a cancer that I know is killing me. It's too late for me, but 
it's not too late for you. Use your brain. Don't let anybody fool you. 
Don't smoke.
    And Mr. President, on behalf of millions of other people like me, I 
thank you very much for the steps you are taking to stop cigarette 
companies from fooling the people into smoking and being a true leader 
that this country needs. Thank you.
    The President. Mr. Crawford, thank you. Your courage in speaking out 
has inspired me, and it will help all of us to save the lives of 
countless young people in the future. Better than almost anyone in 
America, you know the powerful forces that are trying to preserve the 
status quo. But no one, no one, should risk our children's future for 
their own personal gain. And your personal struggle, Mr. Crawford, and 
that of millions of other Americans who suffer from smoking's 
consequences, show why we must act and act now for our children, our 
families, and our American family.
    Thanks for listening.

Note: The President spoke at 10:06 a.m. from the Oval Office at the 
White House.