"Cigarette smuggling costs states an estimated $5.5 billion annually. Much of that traffic takes place up and down the east coast along Interstate 95, as cigarettes from lower-tax states are being smuggled to states with higher taxes in the Northeast. A new website, which calls the I-95 corridor “The New Tobacco Road,” is designed to draw attention to the problem to encourage states to pass stiffer penalties for smuggling and devote more resources to enforcement.
The website, www.thenewtobaccoroad.com, shows how I-95 has become a key transit route for cigarette smuggling from southern states to the Northeast. The illegal profits that are being derived from these operations benefit an organized-crime infrastructure already experienced in transporting illegal drugs and other contraband, and fostering violent crime up and down the I-95 corridor.
“Cigarette smuggling is becoming the new currency of organized gangs, creating a new culture of crime along the busy Northeast Corridor, and robbing state and local governments of billions of dollars in tax revenues,” said Richard Marianos, a retired 27-year veteran of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) who has investigated many tobacco smuggling cases. Marianos will be blogging on The New Tobacco Road website.
“Right now, the financial reward for smuggling cigarettes far outweighs the risks of punishment,” said Marianos. “We’re very hopeful that the new website will give legislators information they need to stiffen penalties and increase enforcement.”
The website, which is sponsored by RAI Services Company, a subsidiary of Reynolds American Inc., will provide important information of interest to lawmakers, law enforcement officials and concerned citizens on how serious the problem of cigarette smuggling really is, and what federal and state governments can do about it.
“The illicit trade of cigarettes is not a victimless crime,” said Bryan Hatchell, director of communications for Reynolds American. “It funds organized crime, costs the states billions in tax revenues and hurts law-abiding retail businesses.”
Hatchell added, “The cigarette black market also undermines one of our companies’ main objectives – to keep tobacco products out of the hands of minors. People who are selling cigarettes illegally don’t ask buyers for identification. They sell to anyone with money.”
The website features access to recent studies and news reports on the prevalence and cost of cigarette smuggling for the major states along The New Tobacco Road. The site will be updated regularly with reports on smuggling activity, new blog reports from Marianos and updates on efforts by states to combat cigarette trafficking.
“We need tougher laws and more enforcement resources all along The New Tobacco Road,” Marianos said. “We hope this site will help raise awareness among law-enforcement leaders, state legislators, federal officials and concerned citizens. Tobacco smuggling needs to become a law-enforcement priority.”
RAI’s website, www.reynoldsamerican.com, is the primary source of publicly disclosed news about RAI and its operating companies. We use the website as our primary means of distributing quarterly earnings and other company news. We encourage investors and others to register at www.reynoldsamerican.com to receive alerts when news about the company has been posted.
Reynolds American Inc. (NYSE: RAI) is the parent company of R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company; American Snuff Company, LLC; Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Company, Inc.; Niconovum USA, Inc.; Niconovum AB; and R.J. Reynolds Vapor Company.
R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company is the second-largest U.S. tobacco company. R.J. Reynolds’ brands include two of the best-selling cigarettes in the U.S.: Camel and Pall Mall. These brands, and its other brands, including Winston, Kool, Doral, Salem, Misty and Capri, are manufactured in a variety of styles and marketed in the U.S.
American Snuff Company, LLC is the nation’s second-largest manufacturer of smokeless tobacco products. Its leading brands are Grizzly and Kodiak.
Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Company, Inc. manufactures and markets Natural American Spirit 100% additive-free natural tobacco products, including styles made with organic tobacco.
Niconovum USA, Inc. and Niconovum AB market innovative nicotine replacement therapy products in the U.S. and Sweden, respectively, under the Zonnic brand name.
R.J. Reynolds Vapor Company makes and markets VUSE e-cigarettes, a highly differentiated vapor product.
Copies of RAI's news releases, annual reports, SEC filings and other financial materials, including risk factors containing forward-looking information, are available at www.reynoldsamerican.com. To learn how RAI and its operating companies are transforming the tobacco industry, go to the RAI website, Transforming Tobacco."
A Press Release