Opinion

John Kane: New York tries to choke tribal tobacco product sales






John Kane in the studio. Photo from Let's Talk Native / Facebook

Mohawk broadcaster John Karhiio Kane of Let's Talk Native discusses the state of New York's ongoing war against tribal tobacco:
Last month, on November 28, a newspaper in Hamilton, Ontario ran a story about how the State of New York was trying to kill the Seneca brand of cigarettes and planned to sue for $350 million in a claimed loss of State cigarette tax. In the article the New York State Attorney General's office was claiming that Grand River Enterprises, a Native company on the Six Nations territory in Ontario that manufactures the Seneca brand and Native Wholesale Supply, a Native company on the Cattaraugus Territory of the Seneca Nation that imports the product for distribution on Native territories, "have sold, shipped, and distributed, and continue to sell, ship, and distribute, large quantities of unstamped and unreported cigarettes into the State of New York" and they "are operating in open violation of state and federal laws."

This is a blatant lie on every level. Each Seneca cigarette is legally entered across the U.S./Canadian border and shipped in bond by common carrier to a foreign trade zone or bonded warehouse where it is cleared through U.S. Customs with all Federal Excise Taxes and duties paid and clearly established destinations designated, none of which are in New York State. All Seneca brand cigarettes go either to other states or Native territories. None are ever sold, shipped or distributed into New York State.

The suggestion that Seneca sales are an "open violation" of state law would require the State to be open. Back in 2011 when New York finally scammed its way through its own court system to shut off State licensed wholesalers from supplying tobacco products to Native retailers or carrying Native brands, the State intentionally dodged any questions about Native brands.

Get the Story:
John Kane: We Won't Be Choked—We're Right And You Know It (Indian Country Today 12/12)