In an expected move (we say expected because the governor has always stopped short when it comes to properly enforcing the law in regards to Native American sales of gasoline and tobacco), Governor Pataki, while proposing a $1 a pack increase in the state's cigarette tax, has once again called for a delay in enforcing the law against the non-taxed sale of tobacco by the state's Indian tribes. It goes without saying that the Alliance deplores the governor's continued pusillanimity.
There's definitely something fishy going on when a supposedly conservative governor decides that he can't enforce the law because of a fear that the law's targets will resort to violence. It seems that the governor, reportedly looking at a run for national office, is more concerned with potential campaign cash than he is in rightfully making sure everyone obeys the law. Jack Abramoff anyone?
To increase the state tax on cigarettes to $2.50 a pack would at the same time increase the city tax to $4.00 and cripple area bodegas, green grocers and newsstands. It would at the same time seriously escalate the already robust black market in tobacco that has led to violent confrontations on the streets of New York City.
We are asking state lawmakers to hold off against any increase until there is an ironclad agreement with the governor to enforce the law against the tribal profiteers. In fact, we would suggest that no tax increase be effective until at least 60 days after the state implements the law vis-à-vis the Indian retailers. For further details on this issue go to the New York Association of Convenience Stores (NYACS) website.