Last Monday, Gov. Cuomo announced a new multi-agency Cigarette Strike Force to crack down on counterfeit and untaxed tobacco trade and sales. The state’s Department of Taxation and Finance will partner with 12 state, local and federal agencies to expand and share their database of crime-related information to end major illegal cigarette trafficking organizations.

Gov. Cuomo said:

“This new law enforcement strategy will help to crack down on these illegal cigarette sales and capture those smugglers who seek to evade the law and rob the state of the revenue it is a rightly owed, thereby putting an additional burden on law-abiding taxpayers.”

New York State has the highest state cigarette taxes in the nation. A pack of 20 cigarettes is taxed $4.35 by the state.  In New York City, the cigarette tax is even higher — $5.85 per pack. Even if it were not good for your health, that’s reason enough to quit smoking. 

Last Monday, state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced his office has joined New York City’s lawsuit against FedEx, accusing the company of shipping some 80 million untaxed cigarettes to consumers in New York. The lawsuit joins and expands upon a complaint filed in December by New York City.

A recent report by the Washington D.C.-based Tax Foundation found that nearly 57% of the cigarettes consumed in the state are untaxed, and noted that the state’s high cigarette taxes may have caused this “unintended consequence.”