Wisconsin among the largest importers of smuggled cigarettes - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Wisconsin among the largest importers of smuggled cigarettes

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MADISON (WKOW) -- A report from the Tax Foundation finds Wisconsin is the country's fifth-largest importer of smuggled cigarettes.

The Kenosha News reported Monday that the independent tax policy research organization found 34.6% of cigarettes sold in the state have been brought in from other states and haven't been taxed, have been improperly taxed or were counterfeited.

New York led all states with a smuggled cigarette rate of 56.9%. Arizona, New Mexico and Washington also had higher rates than Wisconsin.

Joseph Henchman, who wrote the report, said the disparity in cigarette prices between low-tax and high-tax states drives smuggling. Thirty states have raised cigarette taxes over the last two years in hopes of discouraging people from smoking. Wisconsin's tax has increased from 77 cents per pack to $2.52

Smuggling includes counterfeit state tax stamps, counterfeit versions of legitimate brands and officials turning a blind eye, according to the report.
Large criminal operations have been hijacking cigarette trucks.

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