Editorial: Tobacco taxes sent consumers to Indian smokeshops

"Oklahoma's cigarette tax was increased by 80 cents to $1.03 per pack in 2004, but compacts allowed nearly one in five tribal smoke shops to collect only 6 cents per pack in tax. This translated into a price advantage of as much as $10 per carton over nontribal retailers and led to a massive shift in buying habits. Although there were fewer than 200 tribal smoke shops and roughly 4,500 nontribal outlets selling tobacco, American Indian smoke shops soon accounted for nearly 50 percent of cigarette sales in Oklahoma (and as much as 70 percent of the Tulsa market). By 2006, it was estimated Oklahoma government was losing roughly $48 million per year in tobacco tax collections because of the shift.

Such glaring price/tax differences also create a black market for tobacco products, as was highlighted again last week when federal officials seized more than $266,000 from the bank account of a tobacco company owned by the Seneca-Cayuga Tribe of Oklahoma and detained a tobacco wholesaler in New York. The multi-state investigation centers on alleged trafficking of Oklahoma cigarettes to New York, where the cigarette tax is $4.35 per pack."

Get the Story:
Editorial: As tobacco experience shows, tax increases affect peoples' behavior (The Oklahoman 10/2)

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Seneca-Cayuga Tribe accused in federal tobacco investigation (9/28)

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