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Concern About State Cigarette Tax Hike And Tobacco Smuggling

Ohio Governor John Kasich's budget plan seeks to increase the tax on a pack of cigarettes by 1 dollar, giving Ohio the highest tax among the states it borders. A former ATF official is concerned the plan would open the door for tobacco smuggling. Ohio Public Radio's Andy Chow reports.

Rich Marianos is a retired assistant director for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. He now spends his time advocating for tougher penalties for tobacco smuggling.

Marianos says creating a big price difference on a pack of cigarettes can invite organized crime.

“They see the amount of money that can be made from the illegal trafficking of cigarettes. No one’s going to jail for it the amount of money can be 10 to 20 times the amount in narcotics or weapons sales.”

Marianos isn’t necessarily against a tax increase. He’s pushing for ramped up law enforcement activity, stronger penalties for smugglers and raised awareness from politicians and leaders.

Jim has been with WCBE since 1996. Before that he worked as a reporter at another Columbus radio station, and for three newspapers in Southwest Florida.
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