The Tobacco Pirates

posted at 8:31 am on July 28, 2012 by Jazz Shaw

Earlier this year we took a brief look at Illinois Governor Patt Quinn’s inspired and sure-fire plan to ease his state’s fiscal woes on the backs of smokers by raising the taxes on cigarettes. Estimates as to how much money this would bring in ranged from modest sums in the mere millions to roughly the national debt. It couldn’t miss.

With some time having passed to let the cash cow fatten, we should check back in and see what the fine citizens of the Land of Lincoln are doing with their new found largesse. I do hope they’re not all getting fat and lazy now that all of the state’s fiscal problems have been solved. Ahhh… happy days.

When Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn signed a bill adding another dollar a pack to the state’s cigarette tax, law enforcement leaders knew they had their hands full.

John Chambers, head investigator for the Illinois Department of Revenue, says cigarette smuggling now rivals illegal drug smuggling, and street gangs are getting involved.

“Keep in mind this is very similar to drug activity, smuggling drugs, and there could be concealed compartments, false floors in the bed of a truck, much like drugs, all packed with cigarettes,” Chambers said.

In Cook County, the tax on smokes is now $4.66 a pack. In Indiana it’s $0.995. Missouri checks in at $0.17. Who could possibly have seen this coming?

In a recent study, University of Illinois at Chicago professor David Merriman found 75 percent of cigarettes in Chicago didn’t have the proper tax stamps. He says the most recent increase will likely have a big impact along state lines.

“For the ordinary everyday smoker, many of them have already found ways to avoid the tax. I think it’s going to be a much bigger issue in areas where the state border makes it a big difference,” Merriman said.

A clerk at a tobacco shop in Hammond, Ind., less than a mile from the state line, says business has doubled since the latest increase began at the end of June.

So you tried to wipe away your spending problems by raising taxes. To compound the issue, you did it under the cover of attempting to regulate personal behavior by government tax policy to discourage it. I guess this has turned into a real teachable moment, eh?

But don’t let that stop you. Illinois can always jack up the taxes on alcohol to make up the shortfall from this experiment. I mean, it’s not like any of the tobacco pirates would be such scofflaws as to drive drunk as they transport their untaxed Marlboros back across state lines, right?


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Comment pages: 1 2

“what are most American children” for $100 Alex?

…just a guess…

teejk on July 28, 2012 at 2:43 PM

Name one good thing that came out of drunkenness….

nazo311 on July 28, 2012 at 2:35 PM

And how is that supposed to work? BATF pulls mandatory breathalyzers at the door of each establishment and if you are over the legal limit, you are instantly guilty of drunkenness. Therefore you must pay a drunkenness tax.

Good luck with that one.

Hammie on July 28, 2012 at 2:46 PM

TKindred on July 28, 2012 at 1:50 PM

I think that’s a variation (Irish perhaps) of the “golden rule”…it’s all anybody needs to adhere to and the world would be a better place.

teejk on July 28, 2012 at 2:47 PM

I have always subscribed to the single rule of life: “And ye harm no one, do as ye will.”

TKindred on July 28, 2012 at 1:50 PM

Sorry I called you a moronic troll. I see you are one of the tinfoil-hat wearing twoofers. Your family has my deepest sympathy. I’ll just not reply to anything you say anymore, since you’ve obviously closed your mind to reality.

Que? What a moronic comment.

Shouldn’t you be squatting under a bridge somewhere with the other trolls?

Oh how the mighty have fallen!

My sympathies to your family.

tom daschle concerned on July 28, 2012 at 2:57 PM

It isn’t just sin taxes. State and local sales taxes and property taxes are just insane in Noiserland. I live only minutes from the state line in Indiana. Liquor stores and tobacco shops all along the state line have often have more Illinois license plates in their parking lots than Indiana plates. But so do malls and grocery stores along the line.

Every time Illinois Democrats raise taxes, we get more business.

We have a constant inflow of refugees from Illinois, particularly Chicago, sick of high taxes, pervasive corruption, and high crime rates.

novaculus on July 28, 2012 at 3:33 PM

Name one good thing that came out of drunkenness….

nazo311 on July 28, 2012 at 2:35 PM

Winston Churchill!

Random Numbers (Brian Epps) on July 28, 2012 at 4:05 PM

What a great success for Illinois Governor Patt Quinn!

They are probably losing money with the new tax since they are taxing fewer cigarettes then before the tax and now they are racking up additional costs to law enforcement trying to crack down on smugglers. And they’ve pushed the citizens into lawlessness with 75 percent of cigarettes in Chicago lacking the proper tax stamps.

A perfect Democrat plan – Lose-Lose and continue to lose.

RJL on July 28, 2012 at 5:17 PM

Winston Churchill!

Random Numbers (Brian Epps) on July 28, 2012 at 4:05 PM

LOL! Good one!

Bmore on July 28, 2012 at 6:07 PM

Name one good thing that came out of drunkenness….

nazo311 on July 28, 2012 at 2:35 PM

I would guess about 1/8th of the world’s populace. Pretty sure at least a few of them have done some good things with their lives.

Nathan_OH on July 28, 2012 at 9:09 PM

Name one good thing that came out of drunkenness….

nazo311 on July 28, 2012 at 2:35 PM

I’m pretty sure my oldest son was concieved after a night of a few too many Tequila Sunrises. We weren’t planning on him just then but he has added 28 years of blessing to my life.

conservativecaveman on July 28, 2012 at 9:59 PM

Winston Churchill!

Random Numbers (Brian Epps) on July 28, 2012 at 4:05 PM

Great point. I stand corrected!!

nazo311 on July 28, 2012 at 11:58 PM

And how is that supposed to work? BATF pulls mandatory breathalyzers at the door of each establishment and if you are over the legal limit, you are instantly guilty of drunkenness. Therefore you must pay a drunkenness tax.

Good luck with that one.

Hammie on July 28, 2012 at 2:46 PM

Did I even come close to suggesting that? What you just did was present a strawman argument. A lot of things are legal that are immoral. Drunkenness is one of them.

nazo311 on July 29, 2012 at 12:00 AM

a buddy of mine left for Cancun this morning and is somewhat of a cigar lover…

did you know that you can take the cohiba cuban cigar sleeve off of it, replace it with a mexican one and voila’!…. import you some cuban cigars back to the US. Just a few, but same principle.

ted c on July 28, 2012 at 9:09 AM

I just found out that you can bring actual Cuban cigars back to the states — IF you can prove that they were a GIFT; and you gave nothing in return for them.
That way, you have not added to the Cuban economy by paying for the cigars.

I’m not sure how that would go over at the Customs desk – but it might be worth a try.

Solaratov on July 29, 2012 at 1:54 AM

Name one good thing that came out of drunkenness….

nazo311 on July 28, 2012 at 2:35 PM

Pissing off nanny-goats like you.

KrebsCyclist on July 29, 2012 at 2:30 PM

$4.666 a pack? That is a greater amount than the manufacturer and retailer COMBINED get for the same product.It doesn’t even factor in the $1.01 per pack the feds get along with what the manufacturers must collect to pay the “settlement” which amounts to another tax. How is this not punitive taxation? Why is this even legal? A person making 30K dollars per year is now paying more that 5% of their GROSS income in state and county taxes alone to enjoy an activity which is entirely legal, smoking cigarettes.

Cigarette taxes are the single most regressive tax out there. Why do Democrats get a pass for taxing the crap out of poor people?

Rocks on July 29, 2012 at 5:18 PM

Sounds to me like some campaigning coming to North Carolina with Air Force One filling its cargo bay to support Obozo’s habit.

NoPain on July 29, 2012 at 9:39 PM

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