While the issue initially stems from the immoral, albeit illegal, conduct of the big tobacco companies, the real danger begins when Big Tobacco brings in middlemen to work the black market. These middlemen are highly connected, with contacts all over the world, and these contacts certainly do not exclude extremist and terrorist groups. Once the middlemen sell to their contacts, the illicit cigarettes are then sold for an excessive profit. Most of the buyers are across international borders, which raises larger concerns for national security, as outlined in extensive research by the Department of Homeland Security along with other US government agencies.
While Big Tobacco is making ludicrous amounts of untraceable and unreported profits from illicit cigarette sales to terrorist organizations via middlemen, they continue to insist that cigarette smuggling and illicit cigarette production is damaging to their business and their reputation. They are even proposing a tracking system called Codentify that will track cigarettes and sales in an effort to reduce smuggling and illicit sales. The proposal of Codentify is yet another facade that the industry is hiding behind, because the product is none other than a product that was created by and for the tobacco industry, and can therefore be manipulated with ease from the inside. Additionally, one might think that an industry that is proposing a solution for regulation and tracking would be open to investigations, and even assist law enforcement in stopping the smuggling, but instead the major tobacco companies have blocked and denied investigations. Still, there is no shortage of incriminating evidence found within Big Tobacco that point to obvious tax evasion and racketeering. Lawsuits and further facts can be seen in an extensive investigation by The Nation.
The consequences of Big Tobacco’s actions reach far, as far as the terrorist organizations that pose a threat to the Western world on a daily basis. It is hard to believe that Big Tobacco companies are unaware of the consequences of their ploy to make more money through illicit sales, especially with a rise in terrorist activity over the past years, however these consequences seem to be of no concern to the individuals who are profiting.
As more and more countries are suing Big Tobacco for allowing illicit cigarettes to be smuggled over their borders, the wide span of the operation becomes clearer. With the help of these lawsuits, together with new investigations and reports around the world, the facade Big Tobacco is hiding behind is slowly becoming transparent. The public is finally privy to enough information to understand that Big Tobacco is highly hypocritical in their statements and actions regarding cigarette smuggling, and now that the connection has been made to terrorist organizations the outcry is even more powerful. After all, only fifteen years ago there was a horrendous attack on US soil, and the same organization that attacked in 2001 is now profiting from Big Tobacco and vice versa. The time has come for Big Tobacco to stop playing the victim, stop funding terror organizations, and begin taking responsibility for their actions.