Clinton Urges Congress to Get Moving on Tobacco Legislation

July 7, 2008 - 7:25 PM

( - In his weekly radio address, delivered in Pakistan Saturday, President Clinton lamented the Supreme Court's recent split decision that the Food and Drug Administration cannot regulate tobacco, and he urged Congress to pass legislation granting the FDA that power. However, some Republican leaders accused Clinton of not doing enough as president to encourage young people to avoid smoking.

"The ball is in Congress's court," said Clinton speaking during a trip to South Asia. He asked Congress to "give the FDA's tobacco regulations the force of law."

House Republican Conference Leader J.C. Watts of Oklahoma said in effect that Clinton is shirking his responsibilities and could learn a lesson in moral leadership from a former first lady.

"Instead of putting forth a courageous program, like Mrs. Reagan's 'Just Say No' campaign against drug use, President Clinton passes the buck and tells the American people, 'The ball is in Congress' court,'" said Watts

Watts urged Clinton to make better use of the presidency's bully pulpit to persuade young people not to use tobacco products.

Clinton has often said that he wants Congress to give the FDA the authority to prevent children under the age of 18 from buying tobacco products and to strictly regulate tobacco advertising targeted to youth.

The last major tobacco legislation to reach Congress went up in smoke two years ago when the Senate failed to override a filibuster of a $516 billion tobacco tax plan sponsored by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz).

No new tobacco legislation is currently being considered in Congress.