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March 25, 2007

Iran Third Largest Consumer of American Cigarettes

According to an ISNA report published in the 25 March edition of the online Persian newspaper baztab, Iran is the world's third largest consumer of American cigarettes, after Japan and Saudi Arabia.

The report said the World Health Organization has announced that cigarettes are the most important item authorized for export by American companies to Iran, and that at least half of the $100 million in goods exported by American companies to Iran in the year 2005 was cigarettes.

Cigarettes are not on the list of goods prohibited for export to Iran because the US Congress has removed drugs, food and agricultural products from the list of goods prohibited for export to Iran. Cigarettes are considered agricultural goods.

Matt Meyers, a smoking industry expert in Washington, said cigarettes are not considered a basic good, and at the insistence of tobacco companies Congress decided to exempt them from the list of prohibited goods.

The World Health Organization has obtained documents showing that American tobacco companies such as RJ Reynolds have always seen Iran as a thriving market for their products, and export them to Iran through intermediaries.

According to Meyers, cigarette use is on the decline in America and most developed countries, and the tobacco companies are obliged to sell their products elsewhere. It is for this reason that Iran is very important for the future of cigarette manufacturers.

For years, American tobacco companies have not had the right to advertise their products and have been compelled to pay billions of dollars in fines to plaintiffs who have accused them of concealing the harmful effects of cigarettes. Yet many experts believe that increased public awareness of the health hazards of smoking and the increased costs of smoking materials have helped bring about a 20 percent reduction in the number of smokers in America.

Crossposted from Satellite News

Posted by John at March 25, 2007 11:58 AM

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