Help Combat Underage Smoking

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Help Combat Underage Smoking
by John Robert Lewis

Congressional Record: November 8, 1997 (Extensions of Remarks) Page E2239. DOCID:cr08no97-41.

                      HELP COMBAT UNDERAGE SMOKING


                            HON. JOHN LEWIS

                               OF GEORGIA


                        Friday, November 7, 1997

  Mr. LEWIS of Georgia. Mr. Speaker, today I am introducing legislation
that would place a $500 per year tax on vending machines that sell
cigarettes and other tobacco products. It is my hope that this tax will
discourage the use of these vending machines and recoup some of the
costs that these vending machines inflict upon society by making it
easier for our children to illegally purchase and use tobacco products.
  Smoking and second-hand tobacco smoke are known class A carcinogens.
In fact, scientists recently identified the chemical process through
which cigarette smoke causes cancer. Smoking also causes heart disease
and birth defects among the children of women smokers. Cigarettes kill
more than 434,000 Americans each year. Tobacco addiction costs the
American public more than $65 billion each year in health care costs
and lost productivity.
  The saddest fact to me is that 90 percent of smokers began smoking
when they were children--most started before they were 16 years old.
Everyday--every single day--3,000 young people began smoking.
  All States have laws restricting tobacco sales to children below a
certain age. While these laws can be effective when a sales clerk is
selling the tobacco, they do little to prevent minors from purchasing
tobacco from vending machines. My legislation recognizes the insidious
nature of tobacco vending machines by placing a $500 per year tax on
vending machines that sell tobacco products.
  Hopefully, this tax will help discourage tobacco companies from
selling their goods through vending machines and discourage our
children from smoking; $500 is a small price to pay to protect our
children from emphysema, cancer, and the other ravages of tobacco.

This work is in the public domain in the United States because it is a work of the United States federal government (see 17 U.S.C. 105).