Black market on tobacco exists no matter what the tax, what the price

Photo by FOX44 Staff.
Tuesday, April 23, 2013 - 4:00pm

Even though there will most likely be no tax increase on tobacco this year, there is always a possibility for the future.

With taxes varying in states surrounding Louisiana, tax fraud and illegal black market activity happens all around us.

“A dollar drives people and certainly what I see when it comes to tobacco products,” said ATC Commissioner, Troy Hebert.

No matter what, in today’s economy, that dollar makes a huge difference, when it comes to gas, food and even tobacco. With Louisianans tobacco tax at only 36 cents, it’s no surprise people from surrounding states are smuggling cigarettes from right under our noses just to save a few bucks.

And sometimes it’s perfectly legitimate, and other times it's not.

“It might be an individual smoke who says 'hey, I can drive ten minutes across the border and save x number of dollars' and that drive time is going to determine whether or not it's worth the difference in tax from one state to another,” noted Commissioner Hebert.

Smokers say no matter the price, no matter the tax, people will still buy those cigarettes.

“Cigarettes - people are going to do what they want to do regardless, to say the least,” said smoker, Sherry Collins.

“It’s just like prohibition. They want something, you’ll get it any means necessary, I suppose,” noted smoker, Kimberly Peak.

But right now here in Louisiana, we're not the ones with a major tobacco tax fraud problem.

“I think right now the balance with Louisiana being lower is why you have an out migration,” noted Commissioner Hebert.

So whether our tobacco tax increases or stays the same, it doesn’t effect the nature of the game.

“It’s all about the game of buy low and sell high,” said Hebert.
 

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