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Co-Chairman Wicker, Sen. Sinema Introduce Legislation to Fight Illicit Tobacco Trade

WASHINGTON—Helsinki Commission Co-Chairman Sen. Roger Wicker (MS) and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (AZ) today introduced the Combating the Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products Act (CITTPA) in the Senate. The bill was introduced by Helsinki Commissioners Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (TX-18) and Rep. Richard Hudson (NC-08) in the House in March as H.R.1642.

“The illicit tobacco trade supports political corruption, organized crime, and terrorism worldwide. Our bill would take aim at this source of financing from these bad actors and the governments that enable them,” said Co-Chairman Wicker.

“We’re combatting the illicit tobacco trade to protect Arizonans, strengthen our economy, and disrupt terrorist and criminal organizations who profit from such illegal activity,” said Sen. Sinema.

The Combatting the Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products Act (CITTPA) would improve the U.S. Government’s ability to identify and deter those engaging in the trade of illicit tobacco. The bill would:

  • Enable the United States to deter countries involved in the illicit trade in tobacco, and better assist its allies. The bill grants the Department of State the authority to withhold U.S. foreign assistance from those countries knowingly profiting from the illicit trade in tobacco or its activities. In countries where the government is working to stop these trafficking efforts, the Department of State would be able to provide assistance for law enforcement training and investigative capacity.
  • Help the United States target individuals assisting in the illicit tobacco trade. It authorizes the President of the United States to impose economic sanctions and travel restrictions on any foreign individual found to be engaged in the illicit tobacco trade, and requires the president to submit a list of those individuals to Congress.
  • Provide better information on countries involved with the illicit tobacco trade. The legislation requires the Department of State to report annually on which countries are determined to be a major source of illicit tobacco products or their components, and identify which foreign governments are actively engaged and knowingly profiting from this illicit trade.

In July 2017, the Helsinki Commission held a hearing on illicit trade in tobacco products, which included testimony from academia, public health advocacy, and industry.

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