Monday, February 13, 2006

Cigarette Taxes: Post Toasted

In yesterday's NY Post the paper's editorial hits the cigarette tax insanity right on the head. As the Post points out every time the tax is increased criminal activity thrives at the expense of legitimate store owners.

The editorial underscores this point with a depiction of the entire sordid NYC criminal history associated with cigarette taxes. The money quote is supplied by an official at the Department of Taxation and Finance Tax Enforcement Office:
"In New York it is literally more profitable to hijack a cigarette delivery truck than an armored truck."
What's saddest in this account is the ineffective response by municipal government to the cigarette tax crime waves. Few illicit activities are interdicted and organized crime has a field day. Now, however, terrorists are getting involved as well:
"Indeed, cops found counterfeit cigarette-tax stamps in the apartments used by the Egyptian Islamic Jihad group behind the 1993 WTC bombing..."
All of which brings us to the fantasies on this topic engaged in by Mayor Mike. The mayor believes that there is a direct correlation between the price of cigarettes and the level of youth smoking. As the Post points out though, "Actually, according to the Centers for Disease Control, New Yorkers' smoking habits mirror national trends: tax hikes have no evident effect."

With the sale of cigarettes plummeting at legal retail outlets the situation is totally out-of-control:
"Money that would go to New York grocers instead goes to North Carolina and other low-taxed locales."
Not to mention the ubiquitous Indian retail outlets.

The only response to this is to cease and desist any new tax increases on cigarettes and to move to immediately close the Indian retail loophole.