A few weeks ago I had written about how both critics and advocates alike were speaking out in reference to the newly proposed tax increase on tobacco products in New York State. In the proposed increase, the topic of banning menthol cigarettes was also introduced.

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Advocates and critics alike had passionate responses as to why they supported or disapproved of the proposed increase. This leads us to today where the New York Association of Convenience Stores, the main group opposing the proposed tax, recently issued a letter to Gov. Hochul regarding another serious issue in regard to tobacco products and their sale within the state.

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NYACS Letter on Smuggled Tobacco Products and Enforcement of Existing Laws

The letter recently sent to Gov. Hochul by the NYACS highlighted some serious issues present regarding the sale of illegal tobacco products and how the ramifications of these illegal sales have drastically hurt convenience store workers across the state. The NYACS position is simple, enforce the laws that are already on the books.

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It is alleged in the letter that the smuggling and sale of illegal tobacco products in NYS has accounted for more than '$1 billion' in state revenue lost. According to the Tax Foundation, this number would count for the illegal sale of 250 million packs of cigarettes.

Other Issues Highlighted by NYACS Letter to Gov. Hochul

The issuing of this letter comes at a curious time as the NYS budget is scheduled to be due on April 1st and part of the proposed budget would also determine whether or not the newly proposed cigarette tax would go into effect. However, NYACS address many other concerns in their letter aside from lost revenue.

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Kent Sopris, the president of the NYACS issued a statement regarding the letter and specifically the already existing anti-smuggling laws.

Sopris said...

If the state is serious about lowering smoking rates and ensuring consumer products on the market are legal and taxed appropriately, instead of advocating for failed policies like flavor bans and tax increases, it should prioritize and fund enforcement programs statewide...

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Check This Out: New Tobacco Tax Proposal Has Advocates and Critics Speaking Out

Sopris would also state that the failure to enforce the laws that already exist only hurts New Yorkers, particularly the people that advocate for the new tobacco tax say they are trying to protect. Sopris raises a good point because if the numbers stated are accurate then the sale of smuggled tobacco is its own economy where rules about 'who can buy tobacco' don't exist.

Photo by Andres Siimon on Unsplash
Photo by Andres Siimon on Unsplash
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For all intents and purposes, the letter highlights how convenience store workers in NYS are already being hurt because of smuggling issues. The proposed new tobacco tax would also only take more out of the pockets of these workers.

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The Fundamental Question Still Remains

Regardless of which side of the tobacco debate you fall on a few important observations still remain. First and foremost, Kent Sopris is doing his job as the president of the NYACS and representing his constituents and voicing their issues with problems that directly affect them. It's no different than a politician representing their district, city, or state.

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In addition, the fundamental question raised in the previous article on this new proposed tobacco tax still remains. That question is that regardless of those for or against the new tax, can you really stop or prevent individuals from making their own choices of buying and smoking cigarettes or tobacco products? It's common knowledge that these products cause severe health issues but millions of people still use them.

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