September 22, 1997 in Nation/World

Senate Works On Phaseout Of Tobacco Programs Panel Seeks Buyout Of Quotas, Aid For Areas Dependent On Crop

Beth Powell Associated Press
 

With the big tobacco agreement in limbo, the Senate Agriculture Committee is working on legislation that would phase out federal tobacco programs, Chairman Richard Lugar said Sunday.

Lugar, R-Ind., said his committee will have ready this fall its part of the tobacco legislation, including the phaseout, an $8-a-pound buyout of tobacco quotas and aid to communities whose economies depend on the crop.

“That’s a pretty solid piece,” Lugar said on “Fox News Sunday.”

Quotas are government allotments that allow farmers to grow and sell limited quantities of tobacco.

President Clinton, in seeking to toughen the tobacco agreement reached this summer by state attorneys general and cigarette-makers, laid out principles he wanted to see in final legislation. They included protection for tobacco farmers, as well as ensuring a drop in teen smoking and full government control over nicotine.

Tobacco is grown in more than 20 states, with two-thirds of the crop from North Carolina and Kentucky.

Members of Congress have speculated that without specific legislation from Clinton, a tobacco proposal would not be considered until next year.

“We’ll have our part of it ready,” Lugar said. “If you want to pass a bill in October or November, we’ll be there.”

Phil Carlton, chief negotiator for the tobacco companies, said the industry is pleased with Clinton’s response to the agreement, except for his demand that the Food and Drug Administration needs more authority to control nicotine.

“The FDA under this arrangement will have for the first time in its history crystal-clear statutory authority to regulate this industry,” Carlton said on CNN’s “Late Edition.”

But presidential adviser Rahm Emanuel, also appearing on CNN, said the president won’t budge on the issue of FDA control.

“When we draft legislation with both parties in both chambers it is a principle that we are going to hold steadfast to,” Emanuel said.


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