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U.N. Bars Tobacco Companies from Cigarette Smuggling Meeting

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A U.N.-backed meeting on international tobacco smuggling decided to exclude the tobacco industry from participating, the Chicago Tribune reported July 2.

The 130 governments at the weeklong meeting barred tobacco companies because of fears they could interfere in the negotiations. Representatives of tobacco firms had attended the meeting earlier in the week.

A spokesman for Philip Morris International, Greg Prager, said that the company was disappointed by the decision, saying the meeting should be a democratic and transparent process. 

The governments, who are all parties to the 2005 Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, are considering banning Internet sales of tobacco products as well as cracking down on smuggling.

British American Tobacco spokesman David Betteridge said that the illicit trade can only be successfully fought if there is cooperation among regulators, law enforcement, and the tobacco industry.

Kathy Mulvey, policy director of the U.S.-based watchdog group Corporate Accountability International, said the U.N.’s decision sent a clear message that it was “not business as usual for the tobacco companies.”

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