Clinton balks at tobacco pact

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President Clinton, refusing to endorse the tobacco pact negotiated by the tobacco industry and state attorneys general, asked tobacco companies to "voluntarily" comply with that pact's marketing restrictions while Congress considers new tobacco legislation. The president did not specifically call for any new ad curbs beyond those in the state/industry agreement, but said Congress should write legislation that would hike cigarette prices by up to $1.50 a pack and impose stiffer penalties on the industry if teen smoking rates are not cut by 30% in five years, 50% in seven years and 60% in 10 years. The president indicated he wanted tobacco marketers to be part of the negotiations for a hoped-for new agreement.In early reactions, Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corp. said it was "extremely concerned" with some of the president's comments. "Given the major concessions already made, we cannot support significant changes to that agreement," the company said. "We hope the unprecedented opportunity this agreement presents is not lost."

Copyright September 1997, Crain Communications Inc.

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