UPS Goes Smoke-Free


Under pressure from New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, UPS has agreed to stop delivering cigarettes to consumers. The ban is part of an effort to prevent smokers from avoiding the state's $1.50-a-pack cigarette tax (a burden raised to $3 by New York City's local tax). Spitzer also has strong-armed DHL into eschewing cigarette deliveries and pressured credit card companies to stop processing payments for online cigarette purchases, which are illegal in New York. The next logical step is for Spitzer to demand that offline merchants in lower-tax states stop abetting tax evasion by selling cigarettes to New Yorkers. Shouldn't every tobacconist, supermarket, and convenience store have to do residency checks on cigarette buyers? And how long will it be before a similar approach is used to prevent people from avoiding sales tax by buying anything online, or by buying products while visiting other states?