As tobacco taxes rise across the country — and around the world — two things seem to be happening. Some people quit. And some people simply quit paying full price. When there’s a dishonest buck to be made, someone inevitably steps in to make it.
While Indian reservations are what most people immediately think of when discussing untaxed black market cigarettes, counterfeit smokes coming in from China have also overrun the market.
In Spain, according to the FT, “the sale of non-taxed, smuggled or counterfeit cigarettes from China has risen in one year from 0.5 per cent of the total market to 4.6 per cent.”
Sydney, Australia is “flooded” with Chinese counterfeit cigarettes, England’s counterfeit market is “burning out of control,” and the black market is “feeding” Staten Island’s smoking habit.”
So, just how easy is it to set up shop as an importer of illegal, untaxed counterfeit Chinese cigarettes?
“We care of our customers and and offer the quality products they may need. You can see an extensive assortment of cigarettes on our website.”
23 bucks for a carton of Marlboro Red with tax stamps from Tennessee, Maryland, Texas, New York, Pennsylvania, or “Massachusettes”?
The same deal was on offer for Marlboro Lights and Newports. I clicked the “Live Help” button and I was chatting with a representative on the other side of the planet far faster than I have ever in my life been able to get a Verizon rep on the phone.