WASHINGTON — While recently supporting the legalization of marijuana, progressives and members of the Obama Administration — as well as state and local elected officials — are considering cigarette prohibitions.
The Tobacco Products Scientific Advisory Committee of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is seriously studying the effects of a “black market” that would be created if the government enacts a new prohibition on menthol cigarettes, according to a warning issued by the Law Enforcement Alliance of America.
LEAA Executive Director Jim Fotis said: “It is encouraging news that a federal advisory committee has received its first report on the expected black market economy that law enforcement knows all too well will emerge if the federal government enacts a new form of prohibition.”
According to a report, the size of this new black market in cigarettes would total in the billions of dollars. LEAA is already on record that a ‘menthol prohibition’ would cause an explosive growth in unregulated, contraband cigarettes. The new findings, shared with the committee on Thursday, appear to confirm law enforcement’s fears – precisely the concerns LEAA earlier shared with the committee.
LEAA’s Chief Operating Officer Ted Deeds said: “LEAA continues to be concerned that a large addition to the financial gains in the black market triggered by a new ‘prohibition’ would worsen the problem of illicit tobacco trade, open the door to organized crime, and potentially overwhelm our law enforcement and judicial systems.”
“Instead of merely receiving this report, LEAA urges the advisory committee to carefully and actively weigh the potential impact of a new ‘menthol prohibition’ on the contraband market, its likely adverse effects on law enforcement.” Deeds, observed that, “any ‘solution’ considered by the federal government — especially a ban on existing legal products — should not be one that makes crime more profitable, increases crime or wastes limited law enforcement resources,” Deeds said.
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 2006 ballot initiative — Proposition 86 — proposed making California smokers the highest taxed in the country. While many politicians appeared keen on the idea, law enforcement officers in large numbers oppose Prop 86.
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 opposed 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,” Police Chief Paul Remige said.
“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.