Is this, like, trafficking?
July 2, 2012 7:34 PM   Subscribe

Can I transport cigarettes from NC to NY via airplane?

I live in NYC, but will be visiting North Carolina this summer. I'd like to know whether it would be possible for me to buy a few cartons of cigarettes for my friends while I'm there. I will be flying with a checked bag. What is the law here? Am I gonna get in trouble for doing this? It would only be like two or three cartons...
posted by anonymous to Law & Government (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
looks like 600 is the limit without violating the law.
posted by HuronBob at 7:38 PM on July 2, 2012

If you are caught they will bring you to customs and you will have to pay the state tax for the cigarettes. They will calculate it and you'll have to pay that amount.
posted by ky1e at 7:38 PM on July 2, 2012

looks like 600 is the limit without violating the law.

For anyone else who didn't know how many cigarettes come in a carton, that's three cartons, apparently.
posted by showbiz_liz at 7:52 PM on July 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

600 is the limit for the number you can take into NC. You can apparently only bring 400 into NY state legally without being required to pay the tax.

If, however, you're planning to have your friends reimburse you for the purchase price or taxes (i.e., if you're selling the cigarettes, even at cost), you'll need to look separately into whether you can do that. You may want to look at N.Y. Tax Law ยง 1814, which appears to be the criminal tax law governing the sale and transport of untaxed cigarettes by unlicensed sellers.

You'll also want to look to see whether NYC, which has its own cigarette taxes above and beyond the state taxes, has separate penalties.

The chances of you getting caught and turned in while transporting the cigarettes in bags that are subject to repeated searches by federal employees (albeit, TSA employees), I won't speculate on.

(I am not a lawyer, this is not legal advice.)
posted by decathecting at 8:05 PM on July 2, 2012

FWIW, I've done this flying to NY (not from NC) with the quantity you're thinking about, both in my carry-on and in checked luggage, and never been asked about it, by TSA or anyone else.
posted by mgar at 8:11 PM on July 2, 2012

There may be laws against it, yes, but you're not starting a mulitbillion dollar tobacco bootlegging ring. There are no customs checks on domestic flights (yet). New York is just as much in the USA as North Carolina. Practically and morally, there is nothing wrong with this. It's akin to filling up on a road trip at the last chance before a high-gas-tax state. Legally, there may technically be restrictions, but if you get busted, scream bloody murder about it. You're a citizen (unless you're not), not a subject (in which case you kind of are), and deserve to be treated like one.
posted by LiteOpera at 3:35 AM on July 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

Why don't they just buy cigarettes in New York? Because they cost so much more there, due to NY taxes?

If you exceed the 400 limit by a carton or two, I think your chances of getting away with violating the law are excellent, since you are doing so on such a small scale. But, if you proceed, you should be clear with yourself that that is what you are choosing to do.
posted by thelonius at 6:35 AM on July 3, 2012

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