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BOSTON -- Following last week's $1.25 billion settlement between the European Union and Philip Morris International on the subject of tobacco smuggling, U.S. lawmakers are introducing legislation in the House and Senate that will curb the international threat of tobacco smuggling.
Representative Lloyd Doggett of Texas and Oregon Senator Ron Wyden will soon introduce the SToP (Smuggled Tobacco Prevention) Act, which contains new and stronger requirements on tobacco labeling, tracking and reporting. Many of the provisions included in the legislation were recommended by the World Health Organization and adopted in the EU-Philip Morris settlement to curb tobacco smuggling and tax evasion.
Around one-quarter of internationally traded cigarettes enter the illegal market. There is evidence that tobacco corporations, led by Philip Morris/Altria, benefit from the global trade in smuggled cigarettes. Lawsuits have alleged industry complicity in smuggling.
"Philip Morris/Altria's agreement to pay out significant sums shows how much is at stake here, and how determined Big Tobacco is to continue business as usual," said Kathryn Mulvey, executive director of Infact, a corporate accountability organization.
The United States has signed but not ratified the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), a global treaty that includes measures to combat tobacco smuggling along with a ban on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship and other provisions to protect public health policy from tobacco industry interference. To date, 168 countries have signed and 24 have ratified the FCTC. "As momentum for global tobacco control builds, the United States must keep pace with the rest of the world. We call on the U.S. Senate to move quickly to ratify the FCTC, and we urge Congress to pass the SToP Act promptly once it is introduced," Mulvey said.
Indiana Senator Richard Lugar is chair of the foreign relations committee, the only committee with the responsibility to review treaties. The SToP Act has 100 co-sponsors in the House.