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Cops Group Defends Tobacco Industry

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Something called the Law Enforcement Alliance of America (LEAA) — which claims to be “the nation’s largest non-profit, non-partisan coalition of law enforcement professionals, crime victims, and concerned citizens united for justice” — apparently feels that Big Tobacco needs police protection from bureaucrats at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Somewhat inexplicably, LEAA — whose territory normally includes fighting gun control and supporting tough-on-crime legislation — is “sounding the alarm” about FDA’s inquiry into menthol cigarettes. LEAA Chief Operating Officer Jim Fotis, noting that Congress is looking into the problem of tobacco smuggling, says:

“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. 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.”

Fotis concludes: “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.”

Jim, your gold-plated Salem lighter and Kool t-shirt are in the mail. Meanwhile, though, stick with your stories about how police officers love meeting people with concealed weapons. If LEAA really is interested in focusing “the political debate on criminal behavior and criminal punishment,” as its website claims, the last thing it would be doing is defending the profits of an industry that is collectively guilty of being an accessory to mass murder.

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