The Palm Beach Post from West Palm Beach, Florida on March 30, 1998 · Page 13
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March 30, 1998

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The Palm Beach Post from West Palm Beach, Florida · Page 13

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West Palm Beach, Florida
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Monday, March 30, 1998
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Page 13
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14A THE PALM BEACH POST MONDAY, MARCH 30, 1998 Panel endorses tobacco bill, leaves key issue unresolved Experts say forcing the tobacco industry to curb advertising would violate the Constitution's guarantee of free speech. started over what kind, if any, le- ; gal shields should be granted to j tobacco companies an issued McCain previously had said was? settled. i He referred to a draft summary that would cap the amount of punitive damages companies could pay out in a year at $65 billion. It would allow class-action suits and punitive damages for future conduct But the firms that do not adhere to advertising and other restrictions would lose' some of that protection. Negotiators also approved broad authority for the FDA toB! regulate advertising, youth ao" cess to tobacco and new products containing nicotine. states suing them. Companies would pay that amount over 25 years to settle the lawsuits and agree to curb their advertising practices. In exchange, the industry would receive immunity from most lawsuits, particularly class actions. Without that legal protection, tobacco companies say, they would be forced into bankruptcy. And they would refuse to curb their advertising, an action they and many experts and senators say cannot be forced by Congress because it would violate the Constitution's guarantee of free speech. That issue stalled negotiators over the weekend as new fighting John McCain, likely would announce the plan for legal protections at midweek and leave the financing question unanswered, to be debated on the Senate floor. In a statement, McCain said the draft summary his staff released on Sunday should serve as a "solid foundation for the debate that lies ahead." Democrats were more cautious. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., reported "some progress," but sues of debate how much, if any, legal protection to give the industry, and specifically how to spend the $506 billion over 25 years the companies would pay. Several negotiators in the round-the-clock talks involving about two-dozen major players including representatives of federal agencies, private healthcare groups and the White House said the sponsor, Senate Commerce Committee Chairman to The Associated Press WASHINGTON Negotiators on Sunday agreed on most of the provisions of Congress' leading tobacco bill that would charge the industry about $138 billion more and impose harsher restrictions than the settlement companies and states reached in June. Negotiators also approved for the Food and Drug Administration broad authority to regulate nicotine products, a victory for the health community and the White House. But the bill also would set strict guidelines for the agency if it tries to ban nicotine. For all the progress, negotiators left unfinished the central is- Civil War prison home of new POW memorial Anaersonvme, ua., site of a notorious prison camp, now hosts the National POW Museum. The Associated Press ANDERSONVILLE, Ga. roreDoaing, ii-ioot-ian iron gates guard the entrance and a narrow path takes you between . jagged rocks. A few paces later, you step into a room and a voice commands "Halt!" You find your- j self facing dozens of pistols and nfles, some with bayonets. And there, in the new National Prisoner of War Museum, American POWs from the lution to the Persian Gulf War explain in their own words, writing and artifacts what it was like one aide said "nobody will be buying" the bill unless agreements are struck on liability and other matters. The issue has featured rhetorical fireworks as lawmakers, prodded by the Clinton administration, consider terms for a national tobacco policy only months before the midterm elections. McCain, R-Ariz., plans for his panel to formally consider the bill on Wednesday, aiming to report it to the full Senate by the end of the week, when Congress leaves for Easter recess. McCain's panel has used as its starting point the $368 billion settlement reached in June among the companies and 40 $40 off any digital phone $99 or above. Now there's no excuse cut your conversation short. Introducing AT&T Digital PCS for as low as 9f a minute and $40 off digital phones. I . to be held by the enemy, often in I inhumane conditions, almost al-. ways without knowing whether j they would ever be freed. "Some of the most terrible and difficult sacrifices undergone ( by fighting men and women have , been as POWs," said Sen. John j : McCain, who. spent more than 1 five years captive in Hanoi after , being shot down in Vietnam. "We should always be reminded of their service." On Anril 0 trip Ariynna Re publican will help dedicate this ' newest national museum, honoring the estimated 800,000 Americans who have been held as POWs. 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"We've waited a long time for this," said 69-year-old Bill Fornes, a POW in the Korean War who lives in Valdosta, Ga. Andersonville is the site of the infamous Confederate prison camp where Americans held Americans in harsh, disease-ridden conditions during the Civil War. Nearly 13,000 Union sol diers died at Andersonville, more than a fourth of those who were held here. Money for the $5.8 million project was raised by a congres-sionally authorized sale of commemorative POW coins, private donations, federal funds and contributions by the state of Georgia. Exhibits include narrators reading from the letters of POWs as far back as the Revolution, and videotaped interviews with modern-day POWs including McCain, former vice presidential candidate James Stockdale and U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam Pete Peterson. 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