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Easley OK with Clinton Tobacco Plan

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Attorney General Mike Easley is happy with the way Clinton's plan would help farmers.
RALEIGH — A lot of people in North Carolina hoped that President Clinton would embracehis original tobacco agreement and give it his endorsement Wednesday. That didn't happen. Now those same people just hope there will be anagreement 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 kidswho don't say cigarettes are easy to get.

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

This problem prompted President Clinton to take an even tougher stand ontobacco. He wants to see more FDA control of tobacco, higher cigaretteprices, and subsidies to help tobacco farmers survive the changes. TheAmerican Lung Association says Clinton's deal is the only one they willendorse.

ALA Representative Debra Bryan says the organization is very pleasedPresident Clinton has brought forward these important concerns that needto be addresses.

Attorney General Mike Easley is especially pleased with the part of thePresident's plan which protects farmers. But the President's tougherstance 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 a750 million dollar check into its account from big tobacco. AttorneyGeneral Mike Easley says we'll get our fair share eventually, but themoney is much less important than getting kids to quit the habit.

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