Oct. 30 2002
Washington, D.C. — Stories in today's issue of The Wall Street Journal detail powerful evidence that R.J. Reynolds Tobacco and Japan Tobacco knew that their distributors were shipping cigarettes to Iraq in violation of U.S. law and United Nations sanctions, thereby financially benefiting Saddam Hussein's family. The tobacco companies' denials that they knew their cigarettes were being smuggled into Iraq appear no more credible than their denials that they knew smoking caused lung cancer. If the tobacco companies are the responsible corporate citizens that they now claim to be, they would be showing far greater concern for where their cigarettes end up, especially when the beneficiaries may be repressive regimes and terrorists.
The U.S. government should aggressively investigate and prosecute any violations of U.S. law and support the efforts of the European Union and other countries to hold U.S. tobacco companies accountable in U.S. courts for their involvement in cigarette smuggling. It is unfortunate that the Bush Administration earlier this month filed a legal brief in a case before the U.S. Supreme Court opposing Canada's efforts to pursue a smuggling case against R.J. Reynolds in U.S. courts. The Administration has rightly made it a priority to cut off sources of funding for terrorists and the governments that support them. This effort should include cooperating with other countries in cracking down on cigarette smuggling.
The Administration should also support strengthening U.S. law to combat cigarette smuggling and to include strong anti-smuggling provisions in the proposed international tobacco treaty, the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.
The European Union filed a money laundering lawsuit against R.J. Reynolds on October 30, 2002. View the lawsuit.