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.

WAMU 88.5

A Conversation With "Broad City" Co-Star Abbi Jacobson

What do Michelle Obama, Anna Wintour and Michael Jordan carry in their bags? Abbi Jacobson imagines the things you might find in her new illustrated book, "Carry This Book." We talk to the "Broad City" co-star about what you can learn from the contents of bags—and her success creating and starring in the hit Comedy Central show.

WAMU 88.5

New Approaches To Tackling Local Youth Hunger

The First Lady of Virginia Dorothy McAuliffe and other regional leaders are exploring new, innovative ways to combat local food insecurity.

WAMU 88.5

What Washington Really Thinks of the Rest of America

Kojo explores the surprising findings of a Johns Hopkins survey on what D.C.'s federal workers and unelected policy makers really think of the American public.


Social Media Company Twitter Struggles Financially

Steve Inskeep talks to Emily Bell, director for the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at the Columbia Journalism School, about the challenges Twitter faces.

Leave a Comment

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