The Many Ways of Finding a Tobacco Bargain

"Bargain" cigarettes are usually cigarettes that have evaded some taxes. The road to a bargain has traditionally led smokers across a border, whether a state border, an international border or the border of a military base or an Indian reservation.

As in Michigan, some of New Jersey's cross-border activity is mere bargain-hunting by consumers who may not even know they are breaking the law. Others are fully aware they are breaking the law, however, and the result is less innocent. As the president of the Eastern Seaboard Cigarette Tax Enforcement Group, Philip Salafia, explained to his colleagues in 1976:

Cigarette smuggling has been referred to as a non-predatory crime or a victimless crime. We in law enforcement must stress, however, that the crimes that accompany cigarette smuggling, the murders, extortions, and hijackings, are not victimless crimes. ...[155]

Thirty years later, the problem is considerably worse, particularly in New Jersey.

[155] Philip M. Salafia, "Cigarette Smuggling on the East Coast," in Proceedings of the 50th Annual Meeting of the National Tobacco Tax Association (Chicago: Federation of Tax Administrators, 1976), 79.