Oct. 31 2003
Washington, DC — We strongly support the amendment offered by U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-TX) in the House Ways and Means Committee yesterday that would have excluded manufactured tobacco products and equipment used to manufacture such products from eligibility for manufacturing tax breaks provided by H.R. 2896, legislation before the Committee. The Committee defeated the amendment.
The tobacco industry has already received hundreds of millions of dollars in assistance from U.S. taxpayers in its quest to addict a new generation of smokers overseas. This practice should end immediately, and the industry's long history of deception and misconduct concerning their deadly products should not be further rewarded with special tax benefits.
Tobacco use takes a tremendous toll in health, lives and money around the world. Globally, the World Bank has estimated that between 80,000 and 100,000 kids become addicted to cigarettes every day. The tobacco companies, with the unwitting support of American taxpayers, are addicting countless new generations of smokers overseas. Tobacco-caused illnesses kill 4.9 million people a year around the world. If current trends continue, by 2030, tobacco will kill ten million people every year, 70 percent of them in developing countries.
In May 2003, members of the World Health Organization, including the United States, adopted the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, the world's first international public health treaty. The objective of the Convention is “to protect present and future generations from the devastating health, social, environmental and economic consequences of tobacco consumption and exposure to tobacco smoke.” The Preamble of the Convention recognizes the need for countries to give priority to their right to protect public health, the unique nature of tobacco products and the harm that companies that produce them cause. Given the world's commitment to stopping the scourge of death and disease caused by tobacco, it would be a violation of the basic principles of the treaty for the U.S. to offer incentives to U.S. tobacco manufacturers to increase the sales of their deadly products abroad. The U.S. government should not be a partner in the export of death and disease by U.S. tobacco companies.