Va. lawmakers take aim at cigarette trafficking

AP News
Posted: Jan 25, 2013 2:56 PM

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Lawmakers are aiming to impose harsher penalties on cigarette traffickers in Virginia, where officials say low excise taxes have made it an attractive base for smugglers.

Virginia is home to cigarette giant Philip Morris USA and the nation's most prolific cigarette factory — as well as the country's second-lowest excise tax at $3 a carton. That means smugglers can easily buy hundreds or even thousands of cartons and resell them at a discount in states with higher taxes.

Arkansas is among the states that have passed legislation aimed at cigarette smuggling in recent years. But most rely on the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives for enforcement.

The legislation is wide-ranging and covers everything from buying cigarettes at Virginia retailers to resell elsewhere to forged tax stamps.