Tobacco: Clinton's Branding Strategy

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The Tobacco Wars are far from over. Following the defeat of a critical anti-tobacco bill last week, President Clinton directed the Department of Health and Human Services to begin documenting which brands of cigarettes kids smoke. "It's a clever move," says TIME White House correspondent Jay Branegan. "This helps Clinton back up his claim that he's really interested only in keeping kids from smoking and not in punishing the tobacco companies."

It's a perfect Clinton initiative -- small, focused and inexpensive. Best of all, it provides political air cover to renew the fight for tobacco legislation. "Democrats on the Hill want an issue; Clinton wants a bill," says Branegan. "The hope is that the White House can maximize the political pressure, giving Democrats an issue for the fall elections." Better that than teen sex.