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Poisoned Cigarettes Found in New York

Officials unsure about terrorist link

December 16, 2001
NEW YORK, NY (AP) - Federal and local authorities are investigating reports that carcinogens are being distributed throughout the city to unwitting recipients. Agents have impounded thousands of cartons of common cigarettes after receiving tips that the cigarettes may be tainted with substances that most researchers believe to be carcinogenic. Thousands of smokers are worried about a connection between poisoned cigarettes and the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

Officials worry that thousands of consumers may be at risk of ingesting the carcinogens, and are unable to identify how many cigarettes may be affected. One official, who requested anonymity, speculates that all brands of cigarettes may contain the carcinogens.

"So far, we don't see any connection between the possible contamination of these cigarettes and the attacks that occurred on Sept. 11," read a joint statement from the office of Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and the FBI's New York office. Authorities have not confirmed whether they have begun a criminal investigation.

Local police were alerted when an unidentified local man went on a break to smoke a cigarette outside his Times Square office. The man became frightened when he noticed his fingers and his breath had taken on an unpleasant, acrid odor. Following initial investigations, the remains of the man's cigarette were found to contain trace elements of several substances that are thought to cause various forms of cancer in humans.

"Yeah, [the victim] came back from his cigarette break, and smelled awful. You could smell that [expletive] on his clothes. I guess he didn't know he'd been poisoned yet. He leaned in my cubicle to say 'hi' and I could smell it on his breath. Just this awful smell - I really feel sorry for him, what an awful stench. Whatever it is, I hope he didn't get any on me," said a co-worker, who chooses to remain anonymous.