Smugglers As Heroes

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Plus, police and other public officials are corrupted. Worse of all is the reduced respect for laws by the public at large. After the 18th Amendment’s repeal, virtually all of the crime and corruption associated with Prohibition disappeared.

Not many Americans are aware of today’s big smuggling activity — cigarette smuggling. Confiscatory taxes that are as high as $7 a pack, in New York City, making one pack of cigarettes sell for $13, have encouraged a thriving smuggling business across our country. Like Prohibition, confiscatory tobacco taxes are popular with Americans.

A recent study by Michael LaFaive and Todd Nesbit of the Midland, Michigan-based Mackinac Center for Public Policy titled “Cigarette Taxes and Smuggling” shows that states with the highest cigarette smuggling rates are those with the highest tobacco taxes such as Arizona (51.8 percent of the state’s total consumption are smuggled), New York (47.5 percent), Rhode Island (40.5 percent), New Mexico (37.2 percent) and California (36.3 percent).

Cigarette smuggling, like yesteryear’s whiskey smuggling, has become a livelihood for criminals. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has found that Russian, Armenian, Ukrainian, Chinese, Taiwanese and Middle Eastern (mainly Pakistani, Lebanese and Syrian) organized crime groups are highly involved in the trafficking of contraband and counterfeit cigarettes. What’s worse is that some of these groups use their earnings to provide financial assistance to terrorist organizations such as Hezbollah and Hamas. That means tax-hungry politicians and anti-tobacco zealots are providing the means for aid to America’s enemies.

The solution to cigarette smuggling, and the criminal activities associated with it, is to eliminate the confiscatory taxes. Unfortunately for tax-hungry politicians and anti-tobacco zealots, who see confiscatory taxes as a tool in their moral crusade against tobacco, only benefits count. For them, the costs of their agenda are irrelevant or secondary at best. And, as novelist C.S. Lewis put it, “Of all tyrannies a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive.”

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  • ajnn

    sometimes the real world, reality, is just not very much fun.

    i always supported high 'sin taxes' but then was informed that they created 'rents' for criminals and terrorists.

    confronted with the 'unintended consequences', i have changed my mind. i think the unintended consequences create a bigger problem than the positive impacts of the 'sin taxes'.

    i am not happy about this, but then nobody asked my opinion before the world was created what the rules should be.

    • EdwinS

      me too! nobody asked my opinion and now when I offer it nobody pays any attention..
      its .very frustrating….

  • coyote3

    Well, I don't know about "beneficial". Anytime you smoke anything, and ingest it into your lungs, it tends not to be good for you. That said, it is not more harmful than a lot of the products we legally market to the public. At the same time we denegrate these products and the people who produce them, but are willing to accept millions and millions of dollars in tax revenue from farming, manufacturing, distributing and selling them. If we are going to make cannabis illegal, those products, e.g. alcoholic beverages, and regular tobacco ought to be illegal as well. But, but, but, "people might drive while under the influence of cannabis." Oh, yeah, he, he, they already do that with alcoholic beverage and we arrest them for it.

  • kwg1

    I agree with all of you. But watch out your libertarian principles are showing and some may take umbridge to that! God forbid we should exercise the liberty he gave us along with personal responsibility. What a concept.

  • Joel


    Unfortunately, the taxes are popular today and the temperance movement was popular in the late 1910's. I try to help change the former.

    One reason I distrust democracy, but of course, all the alternatives are worse.