Rising cigarette prices spark increase in ‘buttlegging’

Buttleggers love New York.

That’s because it is fertile ground for their illegal activities, since it is now more expensive than ever to buy smokes in the Big Apple.

New York has “the worst smuggling problem in America,” said Scott Drenkard, with the Tax Foundation.

The least one can now legally pay for a pack in New York City is $13, which was recently raised from $10.50.

“For someone who smokes cigarettes regularly, cigarettes [for a month] can cost as much as two months’ worth of groceries, family cell phone bills for a year, or a vacation,” according to Dr. Mary Travis Bassett, New York City Health and Mental Hygiene Commissioner.

Cigarette taxes and a new minimum price rule have raised the price of a pack by about 200 percent over the past decade.

Buttleggers avoid paying pricey cigarette taxes by mass buying cheap smokes in a low-tax state such as Virginia, then selling them here illegally. (Virginia, for example, has a 30-cent tax versus New York City and state’s combined $5.85).

With already almost the highest cigarette taxes in the nation, New York officials haven’t added more taxes. Instead, they now require sellers raise the minimum price of a pack by $2.50.

Continue reading the article here.

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