Obama Hails Tobacco Legislation

(AP)
President Obama today hailed landmark tobacco legislation that will give the government broad power to regulate cigarettes. The bill has now passed Congress and Mr. Obama plans to sign it into law.

"This bill has obviously been a long time coming," the president said of the legislation, which has been in the works since the 1990s. "We've known for years, even decades about the harmful, addiction and often deadly effect of tobacco products."

The president said "after a decade of opposition, all of us are finally about to achieve the victory with this bill, a bill that truly defines change in Washington."

He went on to suggest that the bill represents the latest piece of evidence that he is building bipartisan consensus.

"Along with legislation to protect credit card owners from unfair rate hikes, homeowners from mortgage fraud and abuse, and taxpayers from wasteful defense spending, this kids tobacco bill would be the fourth piece of bipartisan legislation that I've signed into law over the last month that protects the American consumer and changes the way Washington works and who Washington works for," he said.

The president's full remarks, as provided by the White House, are below.

President Obama: Good afternoon. I just wanted to give a quick statement about the kids tobacco legislation that passed the Senate yesterday.

This bill has obviously been a long time coming. We've known for years, even decades, about the harmful, addictive, and often deadly effects of tobacco products. Each year Americans pay nearly $100 billion in added health care costs due to smoking. Each day about a thousand young people under the age of 18 become regular smokers.

For over a decade, leaders of both parties have fought to prevent tobacco companies from marketing their products to children, and provide the public with the information they need to understand what a dangerous habit this is. And after a decade of opposition, all of us are finally about to achieve the victory with this bill, a bill that truly defines change in Washington.

I'm proud that the House and the Senate have acted swiftly and in an overwhelmingly bipartisan fashion to pass this legislation that will protect our kids and improve our public health. Along with legislation to protect credit card owners from unfair rate hikes, homeowners from mortgage fraud and abuse, and taxpayers from wasteful defense spending, this kids tobacco bill would be the fourth piece of bipartisan legislation that I've signed into law over the last month that protects the American consumer, and changes the way Washington works and who Washington works for.

So I look forward to signing it. I want to thank all the people in the House and the Senate for working so hard to pass this bill in a bipartisan way. And I want to give a special shout-out to my legislative director, Phil Schiliro. He and his team have just done an outstanding job. They've been working on this for a long time, even before they joined the administration. I'm really proud of them.

All right. Thanks, guys. Have a great weekend.

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