Cigarettes branded an addictive drug by US

In its most direct assault yet on the tobacco industry, the Clinton administration yesterday proposed sweeping new measures to curb under-age smoking, including a total ban on vending machines, further strict restrictions on advertising, and a proof-of-age requirement for cigarette purchasers.

Outlining the plans at a White House press conference, President Bill Clinton assailed the "deadly temptations of tobacco and its skilful marketing", to which children were especially vulnerable. Young smokers were a critical health risk: "The evidence is overwhelming and the threat immediate."

Draft proposals for the crackdown have been drawn up by the Food and Drug Administration, following its conclusion that nicotine is an addictive drug which should be regulated. There will now be a 90-day "consultation period" for Congress and the industry to come up with their own plan to reduce smoking among minors.

But failing a satisfactory alternative, Mr Clinton made plain he would act to make the FDA recommendations law, even at the risk of triggering a struggle in the courts and more divisions within the ranks of his fractious Democratic Party.

Even before the envisaged restrictions were made public, the Tobacco Institute, the umbrella group for the companies, said the FDA did not have jurisdiction over tobacco products. Yesterday the first legal shots were fired as advertising industry associations announced a suit in North Carolina, the biggest tobacco state, challenging the plans to restrict cigarette advertising. They were followed by Philip Morris and other big tobacco companies.

The FDA package includes the following points:

8 A ban on all cigarette vending machines, mail-order sales and self- service displays, allowing cigarettes to be sold only over the counter.

8 A proof-of-age requirement to ensure cigarettes are sold only to over- 18s, and a ban on "kiddie packs" containing fewer than 20 cigarettes.

8 Bans on brand-name advertising at sporting events and on outdoor tobacco advertising within 1,000 feet of schools and playgrounds.

8 Restriction of advertising in magazines with a large teenage readership to black-and-white text only, without pictures.

8 A shift in legal responsibility for under-age sales to the makers, distributors and retailers, instead of the buyer and the salesperson.

The thrust of the proposals is not at adults, but at young people hooked in their teens or earlier. Thus Mr Clinton can deny he is seeking "prohibition" of cigarettes. But the tobacco industry says the FDA moves will lead inevitably to that.

Mr Clinton is gambling that the companies and Congress will be jolted into coming up with self-policing measures strong enough to render federal regulations unnecessary. The alternative, a frontal war, would be costly and bloody.

The President had wanted to announce the plans on his visit to North Carolina on Tuesday, but was warned off by advisers fearful of a collapse of already fraying support in the region.

So great too is the risk of more conservative Southern Democrats in Congress switching to the Republicans that the House minority leader, Richard Gephardt, has come out against regulations.

The FDA reckons the new rules, if enforced, could halve under-age smoking. The initial lost revenue for the companies might be $250m (pounds 160m) annually, but after 10 years that could rise to $1.2bn or more as fewer young smokers entered the adult market. The cost in jobs is put at 1,000 a year.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: English Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: My client is an excellent, large partially ...

Tradewind Recruitment: Science Teacher

£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: I am currently working in partnersh...

Tradewind Recruitment: Year 3 Primary Teacher

£100 - £150 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Year 3 Teacher Birmingham Jan 2015...

Ashdown Group: Lead Web Developer (ASP.NET, C#) - City of London

£45000 - £50000 per annum + Excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Lead Web Develo...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee