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Chinese city turns cigarettes to medicine

From the Local News Leader - March 21, 2006

BEIJING - A city in China, a country that's home to the world's most enthusiastic smokers, is crushing fake cigarettes to make medicine, Xinhua news agency said Sunday. "We used to incinerate the fake cigarettes, which is wasteful and causes air pollution," Xinhua quoted Zhou Yaqing, vice director of the provincial tobacco monopoly, as saying. A kilo of solanesol is worth about $200, and 30 tons of tobacco leaf can produce up to 120 kilos, Xinhua added.

The northwestern city of Xian is using the counterfeit cigarettes to extract solanesol, a compound found in tobacco which is used to treat cardiovascular disease, it said.


Fake cigarettes lead to eleven indictments

From the Philly Inquirer - April 9, 2006

S mokers of the ever popular Marlboro Lights brand may have noticed last year that their favorite brand did not taste good like a cigarette should. It could have been because they were counterfeit or stale, or both.

New Jersey authorities announced yesterday that they had snuffed out a ring that imported tens of thousands of cartons of cheap knockoffs from China.

Seven people from Philadelphia and four from South Jersey were charged in indictments after a two-year undercover operation in Atlantic City and South Jersey, said John Hagerty, spokesman for New Jersey's Division of Criminal Justice.

Three New Jersey troopers infiltrated the organization and bought more than 32,000 cartons of cut-rate Marlboro Lights, 25,000 doses of the nightclub drug ecstasy, and more than 125 pounds of potent marijuana.

Counterfeit smokes have flooded the market since the price of the real thing soared to about $6 a pack in New Jersey, said Lt. Paul Kuras of the state police casino unit, which lead the investigation.

"If you want to make money, it's even easier than selling drugs," Kuras said. "You can hardly tell they're counterfeit. We're seeing more of them on the market today - just an extraordinary amount of cigarettes."

The ring sold them for about $5 to $8 a carton, Kuras said. Cigarettes made with American-grown tobacco usually run about $55 per carton.

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