Smoking Bans

If 'The Terrorists Win' Becomes a Joke, the Terrorists Win


Last week, in a post about the dramatic increase in New York's cigarette tax, I suggested that Daily News columnist Celeste Katz had mocked Assemblyman Michael Benjamin's warning that the hike would help terrorists by making it more lucrative to smuggle smokes from low-tax jurisdictions. Katz assures me that was not her intent, and upon reflection the evidence that she found Benjamin's concerns "patently absurd" (mainly the headline and a rhetorical question ending with three question marks) is ambiguous. Although I am conditioned to view the formulation "if X, the terrorists win" as a joke, Benjamin himself said, "Terrorists win when smokers/grocers buy bootleg, untaxed cigarettes." My reading of Katz's piece may have been influenced by the tone of the Gothamist post that led me to it, which ended with the line, " That's right folks, pay the tax or the terrorists win."

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  1. Eliminate tobacco taxes and put those boot-legging terrorists out of a job!

    1. No! We must support the *American* black market. American criminals, not terrorists, should reap the reward.

      1. You, sir, are a patriot.

      2. buy “stolen” American!

  2. Is there any actual evidence of terrorist groups financing themselves by selling untaxed cigarettes?

    1. Yes, it’s called the US government.


      1. The government?

        Terrorist group sure. Untaxed never.

    2. I don’t know to what degree this counts as evidence, but here you go…

      A convicted bootlegger funded the Lackawanna Six. Phony tax stamps were found in apartments used by the 1993 WTC bombers and a group of Bronx Muslims arrested last month. Interpol and the ATF have identified cigarette smuggling as a revenue source for international terrorism….

  3. When incumbents are re-elected, the terrorists win.

  4. If we are afraid to raise cigarette taxes, the terrorists win.
    If we are afraid to lower cigarette taxes, the terrorists win.
    If we are afraid to raises or lower cigarette taxes, the terrorists win.

    If we all are afraid of smoking, the terrorists will get all our smooth, mild, rich tasting tobacco cigarettes – Marboro, Pall Mall, Salems, et al…and the terrorists win.

    1. those terrorists are just unbeatable.

      1. “With enemies you know where they stand but with Neutrals, who knows? It sickens me.”

        1. What makes a man turn neutral … Lust for gold? Power? Or were you just born with a heart full of neutrality?

  5. Glad to know a reporter took the trouble of clearing herself of the charge that she’d actually applied common sense to some pol’s bull.

  6. There are no terrorists, only man-caused disasters. Like my handling of the Gulf oil leak! (rimshot) It’s tough being President, I tell ya.. even my own cabinet is against me.. just yesterday I told ’em, “I need some ideas on how to plug the hole!” And one of them yells “that was never a problem with Bill Clinton!” I tell ya, I get no respect, no respect at all.

  7. LOL!
    I am e-mailing that to friends.

  8. terrorists win when governments probihit products

  9. This is one case, having read the previous article, where I agreed with the pol. Because said pol was making the argument that higher taxes = larger black markets. Look at the Drug War and the carnage in Mexico and I say…give me more pols saying this.

  10. Terror is the new Humor.

  11. You can mock sentences taken out of context or you can read my entire op-ed. Cigarette taxes are phony public policy disguised as health policy to steal money from smokers knowing full well that 80% will continue buying cigarettes, mostly bootleg. Bootleggers are individual entrepreneurs, organized crime gangs, and most recently terrorist groups. I highlighted terrorism because it would draw the attention of my colleagues. There is no doubt that terrorist groups are targeting America and our allies, be they Israel, Great Britain, Germany or Spain. Violence is a consequence of bootlegging whether it’s committed by criminal gangs or terrorist groups. The huge hikes in NY’s tobacco taxes will invite more smuggling because the universe of consumers willing to purchase bootleg smokes is expanded. I hope every smoker quits, thus depriving the state of phony revenues and deprives terrorists of money to fund their nefarious activities.

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