Thursday, May 08, 2008

Smoking Kills

Cigarette Taxes Are Fueling Terrorism

Nothing new here, high taxes or complete bans have always been profit centers for all sorts of organized crime for as long as anyone can remember.
Our own American experience with Prohibition amounted to little more than some sort of Organized Crime Enrichment Act.

You might think we would learn our lesson; but you would be wrong.

This March 2000 BBC article states:

"....the customs operation linked the smuggling to organized crime in the Naples area of Italy, with involvement from the Camorra mafia clan.
The notorious Neapolitan family has a long history of involvement in contraband cigarettes and drug smuggling.

But here in the U.S. a new group has gotten into the action; and they've been active for a over a decade too!

"Going back to 1993, counterfeit cigarette stamps were found in the apartment of the first World Trade Center bombers."

States Patrick Fleenor in his May 7, 2008 Wall Street Journal article;

"Cigarette Taxes Are Fueling Organized Crime"

Fleenor goes on to say:

"The connection to terrorism is no exaggeration. When New York police cracked another smuggling ring in 2005, they uncovered a multimillion dollar flow of funds from New York City to unknown individuals in the Middle East. Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly gave voice to the obvious conclusion: Terrorists probably got the money.

Just a few weeks before that 2005 bust, Buffalo-area businessman Aref Ahmed had been sentenced to three years and a month for cigarette smuggling. The feds said he'd used the racket to fund "scholarships" at terrorist training camps in Afghanistan during the spring of 2001. Going back to 1993, counterfeit cigarette stamps were found in the apartment of the first World Trade Center bombers.

Politicians continue to use the health of smokers as their excuse for higher cigarette taxes. This view is myopic. As Gov. Wilson argued three decades ago, high cigarette taxes are bad public policy because of their effect on the rest of us. In the 1960s and '70s, organized crime exploited high cigarette taxes at our expense. Today we face an even deadlier adversary."

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