In 2006, a record-setting cigarette tax hike was presented to the voters on the California ballot. Despite evidence that high cigarette taxes were creating a major smuggling problem, Proposition 86 gained momentum in its push to nearly quadruple the state's cigarette tax to $3.47 per pack.

Cigarette smugglers could have profited up to $700,000 per tractor-trailer load just by diverting the California state tax into their hands. On top of that, if the smuggled cigarettes came from abroad, avoiding federal tax too, the potential profits on a shipping container would have been well over $1 million. As for street crime, banks would have looked considerably less tempting than cigarette warehouses in California, and even the backroom of a convenience store would have had inventory worth tens of thousands of dollars. Ultimately, however, the proposition failed.