Vice President of the United States, Key Supporter in the Administrationžs Position on Tobacco Policy

See also: Government Time Line | Dick Morris Interview | Matt Myers Interview | David Kessler Interview | David Kessler Interview | David Kessler | Matt Myers

Dr. David Kessler of the FDA about the Vice President: "The Vice President, in the end, made this happen. We went to the Vice President. We told the Vice President what we knew, what we found, what our conclusions were. We told him what we were ready to do and he carried it to the president...

We made a decision that nicotine was a drug under the Federal Food Drug and Cosmetic Act. That was our decision. We didn't ask for permission to make that decision, we didn't ask for clearance on that decision. But we did as is normal policy, have to get a clearance on any regulation. So we brought the regulation through the normal channels, but in the end it was the Vice President going into the President."


According to many FRONTLINE sources, the deal would not have become a reality if it had not been for Al Gore. He was instrumental in convincing President Clinton to take this on as an issue. Being from Tennessee, he knew the risks. He also encouraged the team to bring Matt Myers to the table, since Gore had worked with him on the cigarette labels issue years before.

Contribution to the Deal

Gore told President Clinton that he had faced tough decisions about tobacco before. Gore was raised on a tobacco farm in Tennessee. As a young Senator from Tennessee, he had made the decision to support warning labels on cigarette packs. He then had to sell the idea to the tobacco growers in his home state. They were wary, but eventually supported Gore because they did not want their own children to smoke. Gore convinced Clinton that he would not lose the tobacco states if he supported a national tobacco settlement.


Gore and Clinton wanted to protect the public health from the dangers of smoking. They also wanted the tobacco industry money to use for their programs. They wanted a national settlement so that all states would gain from the deal. If individual state cases went forward, it is likely the industry would quickly go into bankruptcy and the potential money would disappear. In addition, they wanted a national issue where they could "take the lead" and appear strong. Tobacco has proved a good issue for the Administration.

Personal Information:

Born March 31st, 1948.

Gore was raised at Carthage Tennessee and Washington D.C. His family owned land and farmed tobacco in Carthage up to 1988.

1976: - Gore is elected at the House of Representatives. Represents the 4th district of Tennessee for 8 years.

1984: - Gore is elected at the U.S. Senate.

- Death of his sister from lung cancer. But he kept having political ties with the tobacco industry for 6 more years. (see articles)

1988: - Gore is candidate for the Democratic nomination for president.

1990: - Reelected at the Senate

1992: - Writes The Earth in the Balance

1996: Democratic National Convention in Chicago, Gore tells the story of his sister's death from lung cancer.

(see articles)

Affiliations: Democratic Party

Cards they hold (issues):

Cards: Political Power in Congress | Public Support | Access to Clinton | Regulatory Power (FDA) | Justice Department Investigation vice-president, Tennessee, senator, tobacco, politics

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