WAMU 88.5 : Morning Edition

Filed Under:

Virginia Looks To Crack Down On Cigarette Smugglers

Play associated audio

Virginia has a cigarette smuggling problem. Black market vendors are taking advantage of the commonwealth's low cigarette tax to buy tobacco and resell it in other states with higher cigarette taxes. 

The black market cigarette business is far more lucrative than selling cocaine and heroin, says Steward Petoe, legal affirs director for the state crime commission. It's not a new trend, but demand for the cheaper Virginia cigarettes is as strong as ever due to another tax hike on cigarettes in New York and more curtailing of non-taxed cigarettes at northern Indian reservations, he says. 

Smugglers have multiple ways to transport cigarettes without paying sales taxes, from manufacturing counterfeit tobacco products to becoming temporary retailers solely to buy them in bulk.

"A retailer was open for about two months, purchased $290,000 worth of cigarettes from Sams Club, and Virginia Tax Department, reviewing the records, realized that no sales tax had been received for any of these cartons," Petoe says. "That's an estimated $14,000 lost in revenue to the Commonwealth."

The commission hopes to propose bills to crack down on smuggling before the next General Assembly session.


Breaking The Cranberry Mold: New Ways To Savor This Seasonal Berry

Cranberry sauce is a Thanksgiving tradition. But if you're ready for a fresh take on this staple, why not try cranberries in chutney or cake? America's Test Kitchen founder Chris Kimball offers ideas.
WAMU 88.5

Recipes Get A Makeover With GIFs, Science And Emojis

On Food Wednesday, we explore the new ways recipes are being presented, with everything from GIFs to scientific method.


Obama Administration Says House Bill Would Give 'Cover' To White-Collar Defendants

A bipartisan bill to overhaul the criminal-justice system has hit a snag. Its higher bar to prove guilt is something the Department of Justice says could benefit top-level executives.

Used Rocket Is A New Breakthrough For Blue Origin's Space Plan

Blue Origin, the space company founded by Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos, has sent a craft past the edge of space and then landed its rocket safely – and vertically — in Texas.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.