Local News

Easley OK with Clinton Tobacco Plan

Posted September 17, 1997 12:00 a.m. EDT

— A lot of people in North Carolina hoped that President Clinton would embrace his original tobacco agreement and give it his endorsement Wednesday. That didn't happen. Now those same people just hope there will be an agreement North Carolina can live with.

Everyone wants to keep cigarettes away from teenagers. To some extent, this national campaign is working. But many teens are smoking. Even kids who don't say cigarettes are easy to get.

Alex Cosutic agrees it's really easy. Cosutic, a teenager himself, says people ask other people to buy them, or they just walk into stores where clerks don't check ID's.

This problem prompted President Clinton to take an even tougher stand on tobacco. He wants to see more FDA control of tobacco, higher cigarette prices, and subsidies to help tobacco farmers survive the changes. The American Lung Association says Clinton's deal is the only one they will endorse.

ALA Representative Debra Bryan says the organization is very pleased President Clinton has brought forward these important concerns that need to be addresses.

Attorney General Mike Easley is especially pleased with the part of the President's plan which protects farmers. But the President's tougher stance means there will likely be a delay in passing the legislation.

"I think we're making progress," Easley says. "It's a big issue, important to the state and important to the country. It will take time."

North Carolina is one of the few states which isn't suing the tobacco companies. It's costing us in the short term. Earlier this week, Florida deposited a 750 million dollar check into its account from big tobacco. Attorney General Mike Easley says we'll get our fair share eventually, but the money is much less important than getting kids to quit the habit.