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June 9, 2011

NY judge lifts ban on cigarette tax collections

(Continued)

BUFFALO —

The decision was praised by non-Indian retailers who have watched the Native American cigarette business flourish as New York has increased its cigarette tax to the highest in the country.

"Today's decision allows the state to move forward swiftly to close a loophole that has deprived the state of badly needed revenues, decimated tax-collecting retailers and wholesalers and fostered a thriving black market," said Jim Calvin, president of the New York Association of Convenience Stores.

Cigarette makers sold 24 million cartons of non-native-brand cigarettes to tribes in New York in 2009, according to the state Department of Taxation and Finance.

But leaders of some New York Indian nations have said they would reduce or eliminate those name-brand cigarettes from their stores rather than go along with the state's taxation plans. They would stock mostly Native American brands manufactured on their territories.

"If the nation's businesses need to shift their product mix to render such onerous tax laws moot, they will," Porter said.

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