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NO. R-182. JOINT RESOLUTION URGING THE PRESIDENT AND CONGRESS OF THE UNITED STATES TO REJECT THE PROPOSED TOBACCO SETTLEMENT AND INSTEAD ADOPT FAIR AND EFFECTIVE NATIONAL TOBACCO CONTROL LEGISLATION.

(J.R.H. 90)

Offered by: Representatives Poirier of Barre City, Alfano of Calais, Kitzmiller of Montpelier and Pugh of South Burlington.

Whereas, the tobacco industry produces products that annually kill over 400,000 persons in the United States and, despite substantial, ongoing and successful local, state and national public health efforts, tobacco products remain the principal avoidable cause of death in the United States, and

Whereas, Vermont has led the nation in enacting strong and effective measures to provide freedom from environmental tobacco smoke, curb youth access to tobacco products and otherwise protect its citizens' health from harm caused by tobacco products, and

Whereas, the tobacco industry has lied to the public and policy makers about the information it possesses, quashed relevant scientific data about the damaging health effects of tobacco, and improperly utilized its attorneys to claim such information was privileged, and

Whereas, for decades, the tobacco industry has targeted its advertising and promotional campaigns toward minors, despite the fact that it is illegal in Vermont and every other state in the nation to sell tobacco products to minors, and

Whereas, mounting Medicaid claims attributable to tobacco-related illnesses prompted 40 states, including Vermont, to seek legal recovery from the tobacco industry, and

Whereas, many local governments have also brought suit seeking to recover public health insurance expenditures for treating tobacco-related illnesses, in addition to the numerous individuals, groups, labor health funds and private insurers who have filed legal actions seeking recourse against the industry for their tobacco-related costs and injuries, and

Whereas, to consolidate their legal efforts, the attorneys general who represent the plaintiff states entered into negotiations with the defendant cigarette manufacturers in an effort to reach a unified settlement to compensate states for their Medicaid costs, and onJune 20, 1997, the major cigarette manufacturers and some state attorneys general announced that they had reached a settlement that would require Congressional approval, and

Whereas, the state of Vermont currently has a lawsuit pending against the tobacco companies which would be preempted by the proposed settlement, and

Whereas, the proposed settlement would provide some compensation to the states but would deny basic justice to hundreds of thousands of citizens by effectively foreclosing their ability to seek compensation from tobacco companies for injuries they suffered as a result of the industry's false and alluring promotional campaigns and untrue health and safety statements, and

Whereas, the proposed settlement would preempt the authority of states and local governments not only with respect to legal actions for tobacco injury, but potentially could preempt other state laws under which enforcement actions can be brought against tobacco companies, and

Whereas, the proposed settlement ignores the impact of tobacco use and sales abroad, where nearly three million people die each year from tobacco-related causes, and

Whereas, the most significant and effective deterrent to tobacco industry misconduct is to hold tobacco companies fully accountable for the injury, misery and death caused by use of their products, now therefore be it

Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives:

That the President and the Congress of the United States are urged to reject any national tobacco control legislation that would preempt Vermont's ability to protect the public health from tobacco products, including legislation that preempts Vermont's tort laws, other consumer protection laws or tobacco control laws, and be it further

Resolved: That, in order to evaluate the effectiveness of any tobacco control measures, all documents that bear on public health or tobacco industry misconduct, including those claimed to be privileged, must be disclosed before Congress takes action, including information regarding nicotine and additives, environmental tobacco smoke, fire-safecigarettes, public relations and marketing campaigns, and be it further

Resolved: That to reduce the harm caused by tobacco, tobacco control legislation must include: full FDA authority to regulate nicotine as a drug and tobacco products as drug delivery systems; increases in the price of tobacco products in order to drive down tobacco use by children; penalties against the tobacco industry if targets for reduced youth smoking are not met; a ban on advertising aimed at children; creation and implementation of a massive anti-tobacco education campaign; tough restrictions on youth's access to tobacco products; a nationwide tobacco cessation campaign; programs to reduce the use of tobacco internationally; and funds for enforcement, and be it further

Resolved: That because the use of nicotine has created an international health problem, the executive branch is urged to increase its work with foreign governments to stem the use of tobacco products worldwide, and be it further

Resolved: That national tobacco control legislation must preserve all currently available avenues for citizens, governments and other to pursue justice against tobacco companies in the nation's courts for the horrendous injury and death they have caused, including the ability to bring class action suits, to use all lawful means to join cases, to have fair access to all relevant documents and to seek punitive damages, and be it further

Resolved: That the Secretary of State be directed to send a copy of this resolution to the President and Vice President of the United States, to each member of the Vermont Congressional Delegation, and to the Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives and the President Pro Tempore of the U.S. Senate.