New Investigative Reports Detail Vast Scope of Global Cigarette Smuggling, Underscore Need for Strong Treaty to Combat Problem



    GENEVA, Oct. 20 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The following is a statement
of Matthew L. Myers, President, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids:
    

    (Logo: http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20080918/CFTFKLOGO )

    
    As nations convene today in Geneva to negotiate an international treaty
to combat cigarette smuggling and other illicit tobacco trade, a new series of
investigative journalism reports underscore the vast scope of the problem,
which harms global health, funds organized crime and terrorist organizations
and costs governments billions in revenue.
    

    
    These reports demonstrate why combating the illicit tobacco trade must
become a more urgent international priority and why nations must make
significant progress this week toward agreement on a strong and effective
treaty to address this problem. Far from being an arcane issue, the illicit
trafficking of cigarettes has serious public health, national security and
economic consequences for the world's nations.
    

    
    Cigarettes are the world's most widely smuggled - but otherwise legal -
consumer product. Experts estimate that contraband cigarettes account for
about 11 percent of global cigarette sales, or about 600 billion cigarettes
annually, and cost governments more than $40 billion (U.S.) annually in tax
revenue.
    

    
    Coinciding with the treaty negotiations, the International Consortium of
Investigative Journalists, a project of the Center for Public Integrity, today
issued a series of investigative reports that describe the illicit tobacco
trade as a "booming business" that "stretches from counterfeiters in China and
renegade factories in Russia to Indian reservations in New York and warlords
in Pakistan and North Africa." Based on investigative reporting from 15
countries, the reports shed new light on the players involved -- including
organized crime syndicates and terrorist groups -- as well as the smuggling
routes and techniques they use:
    

    --  One report details how a network of Russian and East European
factories
        is behind at least $1 billion worth of contraband cigarettes pouring
        into Europe with a brand name, Jin Ling, that has no legal market
        share, does no advertising and appears to be produced exclusively for
        the black market. According to the report, Jin Ling is "the world's
        first ever cigarette brand designed and manufactured only for
        smuggling."

    --  Another report details how Chinese counterfeiters obtained technology
        to reproduce the protective holograms on packs of top Western
cigarette
        brands and have become by far the world's largest suppliers of
        counterfeit cigarettes, including fakes of brands such as Marlboro and
        Newport. These counterfeiters produce roughly 200 billion cigarettes
        annually, which are disguised as chinaware, toys and furniture and
        shipped into ports worldwide. One massive smuggling network described
        in the report moved a billion counterfeit cigarettes from China into
        the United States.

    --  A third report finds that Gallaher, the United Kingdom cigarette
        manufacturer, worked through distributors to funnel large quantities
of
        cigarettes to developing countries with no real market share.

    --  Another report details how an El Paso, Texas, smuggler masterminded
the
        trafficking of up to half a billion cigarettes across the United
        States, sold largely by smoke shop vendors on Indian reservations.

    
    Delegates from 160 nations will meet in Geneva this week for the second
round of negotiations on an international treaty to combat the illicit tobacco
trade. The illicit trade treaty will be a supplementary treaty, or protocol,
to the existing international tobacco control treaty, the Framework Convention
on Tobacco Control (FCTC), which became international law in February 2005 and
has been ratified by 160 countries. The FCTC obligates ratifying nations to
implement scientifically proven measures to reduce tobacco use, including:
higher tobacco taxes; bans on tobacco advertising, promotions and
sponsorships; smoke-free workplaces and public places; and stronger health
warnings.
    

    
    The illicit tobacco trade circumvents policies to reduce tobacco use, in
particular higher tobacco taxes, and encourages consumption, especially among
price-sensitive young people, by making cigarettes available cheaply.
    

    
    Unfortunately, despite being significantly impacted by the illicit
tobacco trade, the United States will not have a seat at the table in these
negotiations because it has yet to ratify the FCTC. This failure to ratify
represents an abdication of leadership in the global fight against tobacco
use, the leading cause of preventable death in the United States and around
the world.
    

    
    Tobacco use killed one hundred million people in the 20th century, and if
current trends continue, it will claim one billion lives in the 21st century,
according to the World Health Organization. Tobacco use already kills 5.4
million people a year and the epidemic is worsening, especially in the
developing world where more than 80 percent of tobacco-caused deaths will
occur in the coming decades. By effectively implementing the proven tobacco
control measures called for by the FCTC, and negotiating and implementing a
strong illicit trade treaty to prevent the undermining of these measures,
nations can reverse the tobacco epidemic and save countless lives.
    

    For more information:

    
    International Consortium of Investigative Journalists/Center for Public
Integrity investigative reports:
www.publicintegrity.org/investigations/tobacco/
    

    
    Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids:
http://tobaccofreecenter.org/resources/illicit_trade_smuggling/
    

    Framework Convention Alliance: http://www.fctc.org/

    
    Please contact Marina Carter in Geneva at +1-202-415-5973 for additional
information or to arrange interviews with experts during the illicit trade
treaty negotiations.
    

    
    Based in Washington, DC, the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids is a leader
in the fight to reduce tobacco use and its devastating consequences in the
United States and around the world. As part of the Bloomberg Initiative to
Reduce Tobacco Use, the Campaign works with governments and non-governmental
organizations in promoting and implementing public policies to reduce tobacco
use. Visit www.tobaccofreecenter.org.
    



    




For further information:

For further information: (Geneva) Marina Carter, +1-202-415-5973, or
(Washington, D.C.) Mark Hurley, +1-202-460-2679, both of Campaign for
Tobacco-Free Kids Web Site: http://www.tobaccofreecenter.org                
http://www.tobaccofreekids.org

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