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View Diary: Can Democrats Really Afford To Forfeit The Votes of 46 Million Smokers? (226 comments)

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  •  Cigarette smuggling: A $multi-billion industry (4+ / 0-)
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    Mark27, i love san fran, kyril, Eyesbright

    Largely ignored in this conversation is the issue of cigarette smuggling, which is a rapidly growing business fueling organized crime, corruption etc. It is a serious problem!

    Smuggling one truckload of cigarettes from Virginia to New York can mean a profit of nearly $2million. In some areas it has become more profitable to smuggle cigarettes than to smuggle pot. It has even been linked to support of terrorism.

    I don't believe all the figures showing the number of smokers is declining, because they don't take into account those who buy on the blackmarket.

    Prohibition doesn't work, and high taxes on tobacco products is a form of prohibition to the poor and lower middle class smokers who are addicted.

    Where do you think this will lead? Do you really think all smokers will quit because of those taxes? Or will they just find a cheaper way to support their habit? A cheaper way that involves violent crime?

    This isn't just a moral problem.

    Do you think I exaggerate? Here's the leading source on the subject, with three links:

    Mackinac Center for Public Policy, 2008 study:

    2010 update:

    A 2013 updated commentary

    Google or Bing "cigarette smuggling" to get a ton of information about it. I repeat: This is a serious issue.

    This is certainly not going to stop me from voting Democratic, but IMO those high taxes are creating more problems than they're solving...

    “Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known.” ― Carl Sagan

    by tigerdog on Sun May 12, 2013 at 12:08:13 PM PDT

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    •  I Left This Issue Out of the Diary......... (3+ / 0-)
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      kyril, tigerdog, Eyesbright

      .....because it didn't fit well with the rest of my argument, but clearly this is the largest public policy consequence to artificially high cigarette taxes.  Unfortunately, a lazy mainstream media has largely ignored the issue, giving cover to craven and predatory politicians to keep raising "sin taxes" without a desperately needed public hearing.

      •  Unintended consequences... (2+ / 0-)
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        Mark27, Eyesbright

        A quote from Mackinac...

        Higher cigarette taxes do, however, come with other unintended consequences: wholesale and retail thefts, truck hijackings, violence against people and even corruption of government officials.

        Last summer a Prince George’s County Maryland police officer was sentenced for his part in a smuggling operation that included use of his patrol car, gun and uniform. Prison guards have been caught trying to smuggle cigarettes into prison.

        Higher taxes to curb cigarette smoking are probably not as influential as some believe and they often come with every manner of unintended consequence. When considering this excise tax hike proposal it would be wise for state lawmakers to consider all of the costs associated with the purported benefits.

        Also, "...a report from the Public Health and Policy Research Program at RTI International, a private consultancy that found New York State’s low-income smokers spend 25 percent of their incomes on cigarettes."

        Consider the many implications...

        “Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known.” ― Carl Sagan

        by tigerdog on Sun May 12, 2013 at 12:49:46 PM PDT

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        •  Do you really want to quote The Mackinac Center? (5+ / 0-)

          Calling other DKos members "weenies" is a personal insult and therefore against site rules.

          by Bob Johnson on Sun May 12, 2013 at 12:57:30 PM PDT

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          •  Even A Broken Clock Is Right Twice A Day..... (1+ / 0-)
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            .....and I'm extremely grateful for Mackinac's advocacy on this issue in lieu of a mainstream media too lazy and too beholden to antismoking interests to cover what is a major political issue.

          •  I'm aware of their creds (or lack thereof) (2+ / 0-)
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            Mark27, Eyesbright

            but used them as the most convenient source. The data is out there from independent sources if you want to dig for it.

            I first became aware of the issue before Obama was first elected, not from Mackinac but from an article in a Texas newspaper. I think it was a Dallas newspaper, but have not been able to track it down again. Anyway, a reporter did an article about cigarette smuggling from Mexico, what big business it was becoming and how some former drug smugglers had switched to cigarettes for reasons of profit. It was well researched and led me to look more deeply into the issue.

            Then I have personal, anecdotal evidence on some fronts. The HUGE increase in the number of ordinary not-homeless people hitting me up for a cigarette; the number of "entrepreneurs" selling loose cigarettes in strip mall parking lots (often in front of tobacco stores); and an enterprising homeless man who collects cigarette butts, removes the tobacco and mixes it all together then rolls "new" cigarettes and sells them for $.25 each. I have also personally come across black market sellers on many occasions. Etc. and so forth, also, too.

            The smuggling issue is for real, even though in this case it is Mackinac "reporting" on it.

            “Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known.” ― Carl Sagan

            by tigerdog on Sun May 12, 2013 at 01:14:49 PM PDT

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