Exporting Cigarettes: Do Profits Trump Ethics and International Law?
In recent years, United States cigarette manufacturers have focused their efforts on foreign markets, especially Asia, Eastern Europe, and Third World states. This Note examines the impetus behind the manufacturers' strategy, as well as the ethical and legal conflicts it creates.
The increase in United States cigarette exports results from a decline in the United States market, favorable market conditions abroad, and United States legislation that encourages foreign trade. While cigarette manufacturers point to the positive impact tobacco has on the United States economy, others argue that increased exportation inevitably will result in catastrophic health consequences worldwide. This Note explores the various areas of international law that potentially impose a duty on the United States to restrict its export of cigarettes. The author recommends several changes that would reconcile the domestic benefits of cigarette exportation with the individual harm incurred abroad and the potential repercussions for violating international law.