News in Brief: A Washington Roundup

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FDA Rules Limit Tobacco Sales

President Clinton hopes new federal rules that took effect late last month will help extinguish tobacco sales to young people.

The Food and Drug Administration regulations are part of the president's campaign to end young people's access to tobacco products by imposing fines on retailers who sell to minors and banning advertisements that target young consumers.

Retailers could face $250 in fines for selling tobacco to minors. The administration plans to send out fliers to 400,000 retailers informing them of the new rules.

Federal officials estimate that 3,000 young people become regular smokers each day, and that nearly 1,000 of these children and adolescents will die early from their use of tobacco products.

"Nicotine addiction begins as a pediatric disease," said David Kessler, the FDA commissioner. "We will be vigorous in our enforcement efforts. Our children deserve that."

Yogurt Finally Wins New Clout

The Department of Agriculture last week resolved a long debate over the status of yogurt, ruling that the dairy product will now qualify as a meat alternative in school meals.

After the department proposed the switch last year, the National Cattleman's Association and other interest groups campaigned against yogurt. Other advocates, however, had been behind the new status for yogurt for 15 years. ("The Other White Meat: Yogurt in the Lunchroom," Aug. 7, 1996.)

Other food products already listed as meat alternatives include cheese, beans, eggs, and peanut butter. Officials said the new rule would soon be published in the Federal Register, making the change official.

Training Flexibility Leads Hearing

The House has started looking at ways to revamp and reduce bureaucracy in the nation's job-training programs.

The House Subcommittee on Postsecondary Education, Training, and Lifelong Learning held a hearing last week to discuss how to reduce paperwork and reporting for states in upcoming legislation.

Witnesses included Raymond J. Uhalde, the acting assistant secretary for the Employment and Training Administration at the Department of Labor, and other representatives from colleges, trade associations, and local employment centers.

"We need to work to drive more resources and authority to local communities, while promoting individual choice in job-training services," said Rep. Howard P. "Buck" McKeon, R-Calif, the subcommittee chairman.

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