House Hearing Will Draw Attention to Contraband Tobacco Issue
SPRINGFIELD, Va., May 27 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Law Enforcement Alliance of America (LEAA) today said the illegal tobacco trade is draining law enforcement resources and new policies being considered may make it worse, as the House Ways and Means Oversight Subcommittee examines the magnitude of tobacco smuggling today in the United States.
LEAA Executive Director Jim Fotis said: "Tobacco smuggling is not only denying governments needed revenues from taxes collected on legitimate sales, but is also draining the energies and time of law enforcement agencies across the United States." LEAA's Chief Operating Officer, Ted Deeds further explained, "In the face of these realities, those associated with this Administration who are pushing for a 'Prohibition' of a previously legal product – specifically menthol cigarettes – are going to drive up criminal smuggling across this nation's already under-policed borders.
"Policies like those currently under consideration, which encourage the illegal trafficking of below-market 'tax-free' tobacco products will make crime worse, distract law enforcement that is already stretched dangerously thin, and at a time of critically low tax revenue to fund police, decrease much needed funds from being collected from long established taxes on certain smokes.
"In a recent report, the U.S. Department of Treasury has already outlined the huge magnitude of the problem of tobacco smuggling.
"In light of these findings and the realities that are so clear to those tasked with policing, it is noteworthy that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has begun a regulatory process that could call for a ban on menthol cigarettes. Menthol cigarettes constitute nearly one-third of the U.S. cigarette market. LEAA is concerned that banning menthol would worsen the problem of illicit tobacco trade, open the door to organized crime and create more problems with smuggling.
"With the widespread tobacco smuggling that currently exists, we should not take steps that would lead to an explosive growth of a new contraband market.
"If menthol were banned, illegal and unregulated menthol cigarettes will likely create a flourishing criminal enterprise in the process. The resulting illegal market could overwhelm our law enforcement and judicial systems, diverting even more resources from more pressing problems."
The Law Enforcement Alliance of America, Inc. (LEAA) is the nation's largest not for profit, non-partisan coalition of law enforcement professionals, crime victims, and concerned citizens dedicated to making America safer.
CONTACT: Ted Deeds, 703-847-2677
SOURCE Law Enforcement Alliance of America