Throughout the nation, state governments have been raising taxes on cigarettes under the guise of wishing to help smokers quit a deadly habit. For example, government officials in New Jersey -- a group of politicians who never met a tax they didn't like -- has caused the price of cigarettes to reach $6.25 per pack. And smokers are being threatened with another tax increase which will approach a price of $7.00 per pack of smokes.
In California, a ballot initiative scheduled to appear during the November elections -- Proposition 86 -- proposes making California smokers the highest taxed in the country. While many politicians appear keen on the idea, law enforcement officers in large numbers oppose Prop 86.
The "No on Prop 86" campaign announced that more than 20 law enforcement groups oppose Proposition 86 due to concerns over the negative impacts the proposed 300 percent tax increase on cigarettes would have on crime and cigarette smuggling.
Cops in other states are also concerned about the punitive cigarette taxes levied by state governments that are creating new and lucrative criminal enterprises as well as criminalizing bargain hunting by smokers.
"If Prop. 86 passes, cigarette smuggling will become an even more attractive profit center for criminals," said Association for Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs (ALADS) president, Steve Remige.
"Prop. 86 does virtually nothing to address the added demands this kind of activity would put on our deputy sheriffs who are already overworked and understaffed by 1,000
In addition to ALADS, the National Association of Police Organizations (NAPO), the Peace Officers Research Association of California (PORAC), the Association of Orange County Deputy Sheriffs, the Deputy Sheriff's Association of San Diego County and the San Francisco Deputy Sheriffs Association publicly oppose Prop. 86.
"A law enforcement officer who stops a driver and finds a trunk full of cigarettes that were purchased out-of-state cannot confiscate the product, yet this person can drive to the neighborhood corner and sell them for a huge profit," Remige added.
If Prop. 86 passes, California would have the highest cigarette tax in the nation at $3.47 per pack. Our state would be ripe for cross-border sales, since Nevada's current cigarette tax is $0.80 per pack, while Arizona and Oregon impose a $1.18 tax on a pack of cigarettes. In addition, illegal trafficking between Mexico and California is already a serious problem. With cigarettes in Mexico costing less than half what they do in California today, a 300 percent tobacco tax hike would make smuggling even more profitable for criminals.
"When a truck load of cigarettes is worth $2 million on the black market, it will attract criminals' attention and add to what is already a dangerous situation. That's why we're opposed to Prop. 86," Remige said.
Jim Kouri, CPP is currently fifth vice-president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police. He's former chief at a New York City housing project in Washington Heights nicknamed "Crack City" by reporters covering the drug war in the 1980s. In addition, he served as director of public safety at a New Jersey university and director of security for a number of organizations. He's also served on the National Drug Task Force and trained police and security officers throughout the country. He writes for many police and crime magazines including Chief of Police, Police Times, The Narc Officer, Campus Law Enforcement Journal, and others. He's appeared as on-air commentator for over 100 TV and radio news and talk shows including Oprah, McLaughlin Report, CNN Headline News, MTV, Fox News, etc. His book Assume The Position is available at Amazon.Com, Booksamillion.com, and can be ordered at local bookstores. Kouri holds a bachelor of science in criminal justice and master of arts in public administration and he's a board certified protection professional.