Press Release by Congresswoman Pelosi

Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi

International Tobacco News Conference

April 28, 1998

My thanks to Representative Lloyd Doggett, Senator Richard Durbin, Kathryn Mulvey, Executive Director of INFACT, and Mary Assunta of the Consumer's Association of Penang, Malaysia, a co-author of INFACT's report on international tobacco, for their leadership and determination to protect the children of the world from tobacco's deadly grip.

We need only look at today's headlines to see how difficult a task this is. Despite all of our efforts to curb smoking among teens, the Surgeon General yesterday released a report that showed teen smoking increased among all racial and ethnic groups in the 1990s. Among blacks, the Surgeon General estimates 1.6 million children will become regular smokers; 500,000 will die as result.

While we work to protect our own children from the dangers of tobacco, we must stop exporting death to children overseas. We must enact strong international provisions in tobacco legislation.

Today, the Marlboro Man is America's most visible ambassador to young people around the world. We can, and must, set a better example.

The international health costs of tobacco promotion and use are staggering:

U.S. tobacco companies play a major role in spreading this death and disease. American industry sees the international market as its main area of growth.

The U.S. is the world's number one exporter of cigarettes. And U.S. companies supply about one fifth of the nearly six trillion cigarettes smoked in the world each year.

In 1996, 70% of cigarettes sold by Philip Morris and 57% of those sold by RJR Nabisco were sold overseas.

Congress has a responsibility to act on this crucial public health issue. If we are going to export hundreds of billions of cigarettes, we also have the responsibility to protect the children of the world from the health risks associated with smoking.

How can we possibly say smoking is bad for our kids, but o.k. for children in other countries?

Tobacco legislation must include provisions to protect young people around the world.

Because of our responsibility, not only for our own children, but for children around the world, I will be an original cosponsor of Representative Doggett's International Tobacco Responsibility Act, a bill which is being introduced today. This bill addresses international tobacco's desire to expand its market by hooking young people on cigarettes.

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