House Bill Would Combat Tobacco Smuggling, Protect Public Health

Statement of Matthew L. Myers, President, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids

Aug. 7 2013

WASHINGTON, DC – The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids strongly supports the Smuggled Tobacco Prevention Act, or STOP Act, introduced by Congressman Lloyd Doggett (D-TX).  This legislation will promote public health, protect sorely needed federal revenues, and fight crime by reducing smuggling of tobacco products and related tobacco tax evasion. 

This legislation presents Congress with a stark choice: Use proven law enforcement tools to tackle tobacco smuggling or turn a blind eye to serious crime and help the major tobacco companies who hide behind the threat of smuggling to oppose common-sense measures to reduce tobacco use, especially among our children. 

Tobacco smuggling is a domestic and international problem for which there are clear solutions.  Combatting tobacco smuggling will help governments collect tobacco tax dollars that are currently lost.  It will also help reduce tobacco use, the leading preventable cause of death in the United States, because it will lead to higher tobacco prices. Raising the price of tobacco, such as through tobacco taxes, is a proven strategy for reducing tobacco use, especially among kids.

This legislation would strengthen the ability of law enforcement to combat illegal tobacco shipments by creating a system to track and trace tobacco products and block their diversion into illegal distribution channels. Packs of cigarettes would carry unique identification markings, and the proper authorities would have access to improved records.  The bill contains new requirements to keep machines used to manufacture tobacco products and apply tax stamps out of the hands of illegal manufacturers and counterfeiters, and it strengthens penalties.

We applaud Rep. Doggett for his commitment to combating tobacco smuggling, and for introducing this important legislation. We urge the current Congress to finally enact this common-sense bill into law.

 

 

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