Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Online Cigs Attacked

Most of the papers are reporting the agreement reached by Mayor Bloomberg with a Virginia internet company that would enable the city to begin to collect taxes from folks who bought their smokes online from eSmokes. The mayor, in announcing the settlement made the following statement: "Internet cigarette merchants who misrepresent themselves and evade the law cheat local businesses and New Yorkers."

Hooray for the mayor. The Alliance applauds the enforcement action but the estimated $33 million recovered is just a drop in the bucket compared to the Indian retail loophole. With a lawsuit against the Indian retailers about to be launched the Alliance looks forward to the support of the mayor at eliminating a scam that "misleads the public and breaks the law."

We should point out that this cheating is costing New Yorkers and New York stores at least 20 times the money recovered by the city in yesterday's announced settlement. We would also argue that until this loophole is closed no new cigarette taxes, including the mayor's 50 cent increase, should be imposed. We applaud Joe Bruno for his pledge to hold the line in this regard.