Smokers in Tennessee have a new law to both fear and jeer, as the state announced that it is enforcing a two-carton limit on cigarettes purchased across state lines.
The law, though it has been on the books for a while, is being revitalized. The reason comes from an increase in smokers crossing the boarders to avoid the per-pack sales tax of 62 cents, an amount that’s three times what smokers were used to paying prior. Since the tax was launched in July, storeowners in border towns have reported significant drops in sales due to customers smuggling smokes from out of state.
“It’s not fair to them that they’ve lost a lot of their business,” David Remke, director of special investigations for the state revenue department told the Tennesseean. “Really from this point forward, people need to be aware of the law.”
Remke and his staff have the authority to search vehicles at the borders to catch potential lawbreakers, however, they will only be using that measure on a case-by-case basis, he said. In the meantime, his staff is spending more time catching violators at the source: stores outside the state.
Violators bringing in three to 24 cartons could be charged with a misdemeanor, while those with 25 packs or more could be held on felony charges.