Thursday, October 27, 2005

Cigarrette Taxes and Terrorism

This is one of the most scary example of unintended consequences that I've seen.

Smugglers with ties to terrorist groups are acquiring millions of dollars from illegal cigarette sales and funneling the cash to organizations such as al Qaeda and Hezbollah, federal law enforcement officials say, prompting a nationwide crackdown on black market tobacco.

The lucrative trafficking of cigarettes, known as cigarette diversion, is a simple scheme but difficult to stop, law enforcement officials say. The traffickers purchase a large volume of cigarettes in states where the tax is low, such as Virginia and North Carolina, transport them up Interstate 95 to states such as Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania and New Jersey and then sell them at a discount without paying the higher cigarette taxes in those states.

Will any politician risk political suicide and draw the conclusion that high cigarette taxes assist in financing terrorism? I doubt it.