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House Ways and Means Subcommittee Takes Critical First Step to Protect Public Health and Taxpayers from Tobacco Smuggling

Thursday, May 27, 2010 General News J E 4
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Statement of Matthew L.  Myers, President, Campaign for Tobacco-Free  Kids

WASHINGTON, May 27 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The House  Ways and Means Subcommittee on Oversight, in a congressional hearing today, took  a critical first step toward combating tobacco product smuggling and the tax  evasion and public health harms it produces.

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

The smuggling of cigarettes and other tobacco products is  a serious problem that undermines efforts to reduce tobacco use and save lives,  funds criminal activity and costs federal and state governments substantial sums  of revenue.

That is why it is important that Congress has begun  consideration of the Smuggled Tobacco Prevention (STOP) Act, introduced by Rep.  Lloyd Doggett (D-TX) and Senators Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) and Richard Durbin  (D-IL).  We applaud Rep. Doggett and  Senators Lautenberg and Durbin for their leadership in introducing this  legislation to promote public health, protect government revenues and fight  crime.

The proposed legislation would require tobacco  manufacturers and importers to affix a unique identification marking to each  tobacco product package. This marking would enhance the ability to track and  trace tobacco products and block their diversion into illegal distribution  channels. The STOP Act would also prohibit manufacturers, importers and  distributors from delivering tobacco products for final sale in the  U.S. unless federal tobacco taxes  have first been paid. It would establish a variety of other record-keeping and  permit requirements to aid law enforcement and keep the products out of the  illegal distribution chain.

Tobacco smuggling, which can involve the production and  sale of counterfeit tobacco products or the diversion of genuine tobacco  products to illegal distribution channels, is a domestic and international  problem for which there are solutions.

By evading taxes, smuggled tobacco products are available  at below-market prices, increasing tobacco use and the health harms it causes.  The smuggled goods also can evade other requirements, such as those mandating  package warning labels, meeting fire-safety standards and complying with new  product standards under the 2009 law that gives the Food and Drug Administration  authority over tobacco

Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death in  the U.S., responsible for more than  400,000 deaths and more than $96 billion in excess health care costs each year.  

SOURCE Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids

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