Reynolds American Attempts to Snuff Out Cigarette Crime
Reynolds American Inc. goes high tech to battle cigarette trafficking.
The company calls cigarette smuggling a growing problem. According to spokesman David Howard, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms estimates it annually costs states an estimated $5.5 billion in lost revenue.
“People are coming down from the North on I-95 with trucks and they are buying cartons and cartons of cigarettes in Southern states where tax rates are lower. Then they are transporting them on I-95 and selling them illegally in states like New York and Massachusetts," explains Howard. "The Mackinaw Center in Michigan has estimated that as much as 60 percent of the cigarettes sold in New York are illegally smuggled.”As a result, Howard says Reynolds American just launched thenewtobaccoroad.com, a website designed to increase public awareness about the community and national impact of cigarette trafficking. The site will provide links to news articles, national research, tax analysis and to law enforcement agencies as they develop possible solutions. In addition, Howard explains cigarette smuggling leads to other illegal gang activities that can threaten the safety of individuals. "There are also ties to terrorism. In the past few years, some people in the Charlotte, Mecklenburg County area, some people were arrested, they have gone through trial and are in prison now for using funds from illegally smuggled cigarettes to fund Hezbollah.”
The site will also share ideas of what municipalities can do to combat this crime. In addition, a former ATF agent will also maintain a blog on the topic.