Cigarettes in the US are pretty expensive. A pack of twenty cigarettes is anywhere from 4 to 10 dollars. People who smoke more than a pack a day are spending thousands of dollars every year to feed their habits. A lot of the reason cigarettes are so expensive is because they are heavily taxed. Perhaps its an effort from the government to keep us from smoking, as its one of the leading causes of death in the world. Or maybe its because the government knows once people get addicted they’ll continue buying them, even at high prices. Whatever the reason, the fact is that governments receive huge amounts of tax dollars from cigarettes.
No one likes paying taxes, and a lot of big companies try to find ways to avoid them. Cigarette vendors often make illegal shipments of their products to avoid paying taxes. FedEx has apparently made over 33,000 shipments of these “illegal cigarettes” in the past decade. Every carton sold should have brought in anywhere from 15 to over 40 dollars in tax revenue. Its estimated that New York has been cheated of over 10 million dollars of tax revenue. The attorney general is suing for almost 200million in penalties to punish the company. FedEx has of course pointed out that they are only the carriers and that the blame should go to the companies buying and receiving the contraband cigarettes. Its pretty clear to me that its more than just FedEx at fault, but they definitively contributed. I don’t think they’d allow shipments of illegal drugs, so illegal cigarettes shouldn’t be any different. I think their “Don’t shoot the messenger” defense will not hold up very well in court.