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Politics and Economy:
Tobacco Traffic
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International Smuggling Overview

"Tobacco Traffic" is the result of a six-month investigation by NOW with Bill Moyers, THE NATION, and the Center for Investigative Reporting.

Producer Orianna Zill de Granados expands on the global problem of cigarette smuggling.

Tobacco is one of the most widely traded products in the world, with an annual turnover of approximately $400 billion. And the World Health Organization estimates that fully one quarter of all cigarettes produced in the world end up being smuggled.

While "Tobacco Traffic" focuses primarily on the problem of cigarette smuggling in Colombia, government investigators around the globe complain about similar smuggling issues. Carlos Acevedo, a lawyer for the European Union, Canada and the Colombian State governments told NOW that cigarette smuggling has been used by the biggest tobacco companies as a tool to break into markets all over the world.

The smuggling helps tobacco companies make inroads into closed or restricted markets with a low-cost cigarette that can compete with local brands, lawyers told us. By doing this, the tobacco company gains market share and actually weakens the local producers. According to government investigators, tobacco companies often use the smuggling problem as a bargaining chip to convince governments to lower tariffs,

Canada - In an explosive case several years ago, R.J.Reynolds' Northern Brands was indicted for smuggling into Canada, using a circuitous route through Aruba, into the US and across a Native American reservation.

Montenegro - Last December, the Parliament held hearings on allegations that Montenegro's President Milo Djukanovic has ties to cigarette smugglers.

Iran - The Iranian health ministry reported that up to two-thirds of the cigarettes in this country are smuggled.

European Union (EU) - Evidence introduced in their court case against the tobacco companies says that the profits from cigarette smuggling have gone to fund terrorist groups in Iraq and elsewhere.

Iraq - Evidence submitted by the EU and reported on by the Center for Public Integrity says that tobacco companies have been involved in a complex scheme to ship cigarettes into Iraq, using several companies, but eventually passing through the hands of the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or the PKK, European Union lawyers said. The smuggled shipments of cigarettes into Iraq are controlled by Saddam Hussein's son, Uday.

Tobacco Resources:

"Tobacco Companies Linked To Criminal Organizations In Lucrative Cigarette Smuggling"
Article by The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, which is a project of the non-profit non-partisan Center for Public Integrity.

The Center for Investigative Reporting
The Center for Investigative Reporting is a base for journalists in pursuit of hidden stories about the individuals and institutions that shape our lives. In addition to "Tobacco Traffic," the site features stories on the environment beat, the crime and justice beat, and the CIRÔs collaborations with Frontline.

The Nation magazine online features Mark Schapiro's piece on "Big Tobacco" as well as other current articles.

Tobacco Archives is a web site available to the public and litigants that provides access to millions of pages of tobacco company documents that have been produced in civil smoking and health litigation in the United States. This web site provides links to individual company databases that make available: indices to available documents; images of available documents; and access to extensive online help.

The Tobacco Institute
This web site is designed to provide the public with access to documents produced by The Tobacco Institute in Attorney General reimbursement lawsuits and certain other specified civil actions, and to documents produced after October 23, 1998 through June 30, 2010 in smoking and health actions. In order to provide efficient access to a large volume of documents, this web site uses three main tools: (1) Document indexing; (2) Index searching; and, (3) Automatic linking of search results to images of the retrieved document index entries.

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