Driving Tobacconists Offline

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The New York Times reports that the government has put most online tobacco sellers out of business by leaning on credit card companies, which recently announced they would no longer process cigarette purchases from Internet retailers. Annoyed at cost-conscious smokers who avoid hefty taxes by ordering cigarettes from online tobacconists, state officials complain that such retailers are violating the Jenkins Act, which requires anyone who ships cigarettes across a state line to report the sale to tax authorities in the buyer's state. Cigarette discounters on Indian reservations say the law does not apply to them, but the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives is siding with the states. Given the relatively modest size of the online cigarette market (about $1 billion, or 3 percent of total cigarette sales), MasterCard, Visa, et al. presumably decided their cut was not worth a fight. But what will they say when states demand that they stop doing business with online retailers that do not charge sales tax?

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  1. Tax the hell out of them. Disgusting smokers…

  2. cigarettes are so disgusting for you that the gov keeps it legal for tax revenue only.

  3. don’t forget to add that $2/lb steak tax, for that gut-rotting, heart disease-inducing, disgusting red meat habit america has.

  4. The crooked federal and state governments are nothing if not whores. They would gladly legalize rape, just so long as they could regulate it and extract tax revenue streams from it.


  5. The crooked federal and state governments are nothing if not whores. They would gladly legalize rape, just so long as they could regulate it and extract tax revenue streams from it.

    Ok lets start small and get em to legalize, regulate and tax pot first shall we. No need to jump the gun there.

  6. I wonder how much inspiration the credit card companies got from the “moral superiority” of helping to eliminate the curse of smoking.

    PayPal did they same thing with online gun purchases. It’s perfectly legal to buy and sell online via FFL, but the bastards went for being PC.

  7. Well, as long as the untaxed cigarettes aren’t being sold by illegal immigrants I don’t see what the big deal is 😉

  8. i don’t understand why the government went after credit card companies when it really didn’t have to. congress can regulate interstate trade so why did they have to pressure the credit card companies. that being said, taxes on cigarettes and the banning of smoking in “public” places is such bullshit. its kind of amusing that overwhelmingly liberal new england and states such as new york and california are the first to ban smoking. aren’t liberals supposed to be the most, you know, liberal when it comes to these issues?

  9. Here in Idaho smoking was banned in public places, except for bowling alleys. They must have an enormous lobby.

  10. I believe the federal government started the ban to stop smoking in federal buildings before it started spreading on the coasts to all public buildings.

    On a quick google search, tghe federal ban appears to have be instituted 1992. Anyone know of a state or local initiative prior?

  11. Ok, live and learn. Tobacco Control Timeline

    1973
    Arizona becomes the first state to restrict smoking in a number of public places and the first to do so explicitly because secondhand tobacco smoke is dangerous.

    Among other things.

  12. Been illegal to smoke in Ca movie theaters since before I was born.

    A friend in Ohio just got a bill from the state for the taxes due on his online purchases of smokes. Apparently there is some really old and really obscure federal law that allows state governments to demand buyer’s name and addresses with respect to tobacco purchases.

  13. Well, as long as the untaxed cigarettes aren’t being sold by illegal immigrants I don’t see what the big deal is

    Like most places with high ciggie taxes Italy has a huge smuggling problem.

    The smuggled smokes are mostly sold on street corners by “North Africans”.

    So there’s always somewhere with a bigger “problem”.

  14. Just another reason why the Internet needs its own online currency. Can we digitize Krugerrands?

  15. “i don’t understand why the government went after credit card companies when it really didn’t have to. congress can regulate interstate trade so why did they have to pressure the credit card companies.”

    Because, if congress doesn’t go after the credit card companies then the credit card companies don’t have any incentive to buy off the congresscritters… I mean contribute to their campaigns…..

  16. The credit card companies aren’t “buying off” CongressCritters, they are paying “shakedown money”. There’s a big difference.

    Where’s a RICO-happy prosecutor when you really need him?

  17. Save Social Security: Subsidize Smoking

  18. People, all the credit card companies want to do is to contribute to the Culture of Life?

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