Wednesday, September 29, 2010

New York Is Not An Island

I wonder if New York State, after it forces the Indians to charge cigarette taxes, will go after Massachusetts?

Empire State businesses are losing the battle on the border.

Since New York raised its cigarette tax to a nation-high $4.35 per pack on July 1, sales at Thruway Beverage III in New Lebanon are down by about 40 percent, according to manager Brian Driscoll.

"You've got to be [wondering] if we're even going to be around in the next couple of months if it keeps up like this," Driscoll said. "I mean, we're really slow right now."

At West End Package and Variety in nearby Pittsfield, Mass., sales are up -- not coincidentally -- by about 40 percent.

"We love New York's taxes," owner Kelly Healey said. "We have seen a dramatic increase in the people that are coming in."

By driving to Massachusetts or Vermont -- where the cigarette tax is $2.51 and $2.24, respectively -- smokers can save about $20 per carton.

Maybe New York's convenience store lobby, which has fought hard to collect taxes from the Senecas and Oneidas (instead of fighting Albany), will go after neighboring states, too.

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