In yesterday's Daily News Bill Sherman writes about the growing outrage, one that we have been harping on for four years, over the governor's failure to enforce the tax law against Indian retailers who sell cigarettes. The failure doesn't come cheaply "costing the city and state $500 million this year."
The funniest line in the story comes from "Seneca nation President" Barry Snyder who told the News that enforcing the law "would wreck havoc on both the nations and western New York economy." Now we can't comment on the impact of enforcement on the Senecas but the idea that this would hurt the economy of the region is a cruel joke to all of the legitimate retailers in that part of the state who are being shafted by the governor's pusilanimity.
As the News points out the cost of a carton of Marlboros is less than $30 at the reservation smoke shop and over $70 in New York City. This disparity has created a lucrative and violent black market in the city and is a major impediment to the mayor's efforts to reduce teen smoking.
Which is why the Gristedes company, and its president John Catsimatidis, is launching a lawsuit today against the Long Island Indians whose "tax free" cigarettes are flooding the city's neighborhoods. As the suit underscores these tribes have a great deal to lose and this legal action is probably only the first of a number of such claims agains tribes that are willfully disobeying the law.