Cigarette Penalties in NYC
June 30, 2008 12:43 AM   Subscribe

What are the penalties for unlicensed cigarette vendors selling untaxed (likely imported) cigarettes in NYC?

Yesterday, outside of a Brooklyn bar, I spotted a man selling what looked like Ukrainian Camel cigarettes out of a trash bag for $5 a pop. What are the likely penalties this man would incur if caught? I haven't been able to find any relevant information for New York City laws on this subject.
posted by ifranzen to Law & Government (6 answers total)
Here are some news stories that list the potential charges involved as well as potential penalties.

The ATF can also get involved at the federal level for additional charges.
posted by TedW at 2:58 AM on June 30, 2008

The businesspeople selling cigarettes on streets and in bars out of a plastic bag are not bothering with the fake tax stamps.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 3:44 AM on June 30, 2008

Five bucks ultra bootleg? Apologies for the derail, but if you walked into a NYC corner grocery, what would they charge you these days for legitimate pack of Camels? Like Mr. Popwell, 'I gots to know.'
posted by mojohand at 5:32 AM on June 30, 2008

Cigarettes in NYC are crazy expensive these days. Depending on where you buy them, they're running $8 - $10 a pack.
posted by tundro at 5:41 AM on June 30, 2008

Thanks for your help everyone, but I guess I need to ask a DA or someone like that for the real scoop -- all of the news stories provided are in reference to fake stamps, which seems like another ballgame entirely.
posted by ifranzen at 1:46 PM on June 30, 2008

Attempt to Evade/Defeat Cigarette Tax – Felony and Misdemeanor charges
Possession for Sale of Untaxed Cigarettes – Misdemeanor

From the first link I posted; there are other, similar charges listed as well. Some people I know were busted by the ATF a couple of years ago for buying cigars in NC where there is little tax and bringing them to Augusta to sell during some golf thing we have here each spring; they were initially charged with felonies but didn't serve any time and so presumably plea bargained down to something less severe. Anyway, tobacco (and alcohol) laws are incredibly byzantine, and violating them exposes you to a wide range of federal, state, and local penalties, depending upon what you are doing, who catches you, and what they feel like charging you with. The guy you describe is probably looking at misdemeanor charges, but if the powers that be decide he is part of a larger organization looking to break the law, then RICO and conspiracy charges could apply, which would up the ante considerably.

I am not a lawyer, this is not a hack, and whether the first or last link is more important will be an exercise left to the reader.
posted by TedW at 2:20 PM on June 30, 2008

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