You thought there was no connection Thursday between Joe Cherner’s message (Wal-Mart’s push to sell Marlboros in Mexico) and Spencer Martin’s message (we’d better watch out – France is going to impose their high tax rates on us)? Well, there is one. Vaguely. France may not be interfering with our tax structure, but we are interfering with Korea’s – over tobacco.

‘In line with Seoul’s plans to deregulate the domestic tobacco industry, starting next month foreign cigarettes stand to face a heftier customs duty, 40% higher than the current level. Fearing a possible setback in American cigarettes’ market share in Korea, for the first time ever the United States is requesting Seoul lower those tariffs. . . . A USTR team arrived in Seoul on Sunday to further negotiate the planned hike in cigarette tariffs this week.’ – Chosun Ilbo, Monday, 6/11/01

Why shouldn’t the U.S. taxpayer send a delegation abroad to try to keep our cigarettes attractive to the Korean people? We favor free trade. But in the previous administration, the policy was different. Being highly addictive and frequently deadly, tobacco was considered something to discourage around the world, not promote.

Never fear, Philip Morris: the Bush administration is on the case.

Meanwhile, a world away, comes this word from Florida:

‘I regret to inform you that Governor Bush has announced his veto of $4,587,393.00 of tobacco control enforcement funds. Tobacco control enforcement is a critical component of Florida’s highly successful youth tobacco control program. The American Cancer Society has made adequate funding for the Tobacco Control Program a top priority. I am very disappointed in the Governor’s decision to cut funding for the most successful youth tobacco control program in the country.’ – Ralph A. DeVitto, American Cancer Society, Florida Division

Never fear, Philip Morris: the Bush administration is on the case.


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