Tobacco: It's an Indian Thing

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A group of cigarette distributors and retailers is challenging New York state's ban on phone, mail-order, and online tobacco sales, arguing that the 2000 law violates the Commerce Clause by creating barriers to interstate trade and by regulating commerce with Indian tribes that sell cigarettes, a congressional prerogative. Although I share the plaintiffs' antipathy to New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer's insistence that everyone (include shippers and credit card companies) help his state collect its ridicuously high cigarette tax, the first prong of their argument seems dubious to me. The cigarette sellers cite the U.S. Supreme Court's 2005 decision overturning state laws that ban direct shipment to consumers from out-of-state wineries. But the New York and Michigan laws challenged in that case explicitly discriminated against wineries in other states, permitting direct shipments by in-state wineries. Indeed, one way of complying with the decision would be to uniformly ban phone, mail-order, and online sales of wine.

NEXT: Run for the (Other) Border

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  1. …arguing that the 2000 law violates the Commerce Clause…

    Not knowing the federal regulatory structure in this area it might be the case that the dormant Commerce Clause doctrine is at play here too.

  2. I was just giving some thought to Indians and American Indian culture the other day.

    It’s true that many Indian peoples identify with certain animal spirits as their alter-egos, right?

    …Then doesn’t that fact mean that American Indians are the true originators of Furryism?

    In that case, isn’t it somewhat understandable as to why the forefathers tried to exterminate them?

    Your input on this matter is appreciated.

  3. Hmmm…dressing minmally, with feathers or fur…living in clans…

  4. smacky – I know a little about furries, but not enough to really comment.

    Have you seen this website.

    It’s pretty funny.

  5. Well, there’s the obvious issue that unlike wine, states can’t plausibly claim that they have a constitutional authority to regulate tobacco deriving from the 21st amendment.

  6. scenescent:

    uhhhhhhhhh…….since when do states actually need “constitutional authority” to regulate the fizzuck out of whatever they want?

  7. 1. The wine cases were wrongly decided. The text of the 21st Amendment is unambiguous. Not that the actual text of the Constitution ever matters anymore.

    2. Where Indian nations are concerned, all bets are off (no pun intended).

  8. Evan,

    I believe NY also technically demands that people who buy cigs in other states and transport them into NY pay the difference in cigarette taxes. Not that they have a prayer in hell of enforcing it, but it is on the books.

  9. If you guys wanted smokes, why didn’t you just ask me?

  10. It’s true that many Indian peoples identify with certain animal spirits as their alter-egos, right?

    …Then doesn’t that fact mean that American Indians are the true originators of Furryism?

    You are indecent. You do not know my people. We are a proud people. You mock our ways.

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