A bipartisan Senate tobacco bill conceived as a path to compromise on granting the tobacco industry immunity from most lawsuits is expected to win White House approval this week.
White House and Senate aides working on the issue said Monday that a bill to be introduced this week by Sens. John Chafee, R-R.I., Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, and Bob Graham, D-Fla., meets President Clinton's objectives for a national tobacco policy.However, there is still disagreement over how the government should spend money from a tobacco deal.
Aides say the Chafee-Harkin-Graham bill in its present form would impose a $1.50-per-pack cigarette price increase over two years, the highest of any measure introduced so far. The bill would maintain the right for large numbers of people to sue and set up a capped fund to pay successful plaintiffs.
Tobacco companies would pay $4 billion a year into the fund, whether or not it is used.