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Tobacco giant denies encouraging smuggling to China

BMJ 2006; 333 doi: (Published 10 August 2006) Cite this as: BMJ 2006;333:320
  1. Roger Dobson
  1. Abergavenny

    British American Tobacco (BAT) has denied that it benefited from, encouraged, and attempted to control smuggling of tobacco into China, allegations reported in an online journal.

    Contraband has been a hugely profitable and integral part of the company's operations in China over the past two decades, claims the report by Kelley Lee from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and Jeff Collin, of the University of Edinburgh, published online on 18 July in PLoS Medicine (, doi: 10.1371/journal.pmed.0030228).

    The illicit trade is described in the report as being worth billions of dollars, and the report says that internal documents of the company show that at one point significant profits were coming from “transit” trade to China—which, alleges an accompanying article by Thomas Novotny (doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0030279), is a code word for smuggled cigarettes.

    The accompanying article claims that the documents show evidence of BAT's efforts to build a market presence in competition with other …

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