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Demand for Cheap Cigarettes in New York Fuels Underground Market

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The demand for cheap cigarettes in New York has fueled a large underground market, law enforcement officials say. The growth in cigarette smuggling has been driven by New York City’s $6.46-a-pack tax, the highest in the nation, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The city’s underground cigarette market received attention this week when 10 current and former New York law enforcement officers were arrested for smuggling guns and cigarettes. The defendants in the smuggling scheme made more money on cigarettes than on guns, the article notes.

“Over the past decade we have seen a marked increase in contraband cigarettes coming into the greater New York area,” Joseph Green, a spokesman for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and Explosives’ New York office, told the newspaper.

Black-market cigarettes are generally sold to small shops or are sold in single packs on the street. Some are sold in nightclubs and bars. New York police routinely look for evidence that individual cigarettes are being sold in stores, in an effort to reduce illegal cigarette sales.

1 Response to this article

  1. maxwood / October 27, 2011 at 8:38 pm

    Well, they asked for this with the high taxes which have brought the price per pack over $10. The other side of the coin is that the government gets addicted to the tax revenue and looks for ways to do favors for its $igarette oligarch partners who use their advertising muscle to get more kids hooked and keep the money flowing. If Mayor Bloomberg, who combined with Bill Gates to set up a $500-million anti-tobacco fund, really wants to reduce $igarette consumption he should promote local manufacture (jobs!) and export mass marketing of harm reduction utensils, i.e. 25-mg one-hitters to replace the intentionally addictive 700-mg $igarette format.

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