Mike Robertson - Comment
This is a Comment on the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Proposed Rule: Menthol in Cigarettes, Tobacco Products; Request for Comments
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As a former Director of the North Carolina Alcohol Beverage Law Enforcement Agency and an experienced law enforcement official with the State Bureau of Investigation, I had an opportunity to witness first-hand the issues law enforcement officers faced in dealing with tobacco smuggling in North Carolina on a regular basis. It is a prevalent problem.
Tobacco smuggling enforcement is extremely difficult for law enforcement and detracts from many demands placed on them. Criminal organizations purchase large quantities of cigarettes from low tax states such as North Carolina and illegally transport then to higher tax rate states and sell them without paying sales for a considerable profit. Criminal organizations also obtain cigarettes by fraud and theft. Smuggling denies federal and state governments from needed revenue from taxes collected on legitimate sales.
As the FDA contemplates a potential ban on menthol cigarettes, I wanted to express my concern knowing a ban will only exacerbate tobacco smuggling. It may create a sizable contraband market and add another burden for our law enforcement officers. Therefore, adding one more enforcement issue on the already difficult our law enforcement officers face daily.
Respectfully, the FDA should consider some of the unintended consequences that are likely to result from a ban on menthol cigarettes. In addition to the concern regarding the black market, some other factors to consider are illicit and unregulated cigarettes, as well as, a likely increase in availability of illicit cigarettes to underage youths. Historically, we have found banned products find an avenue to consumers.
With the widespread tobacco smuggling already in existence to avoid taxation, I believe a ban on menthol cigarettes would only intensify the smuggling problem and likely not fully address their overall goals.
Thank you for your consideration in this matter.
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Comment Period Closed
Sep 23 2013, at 11:59 PM ET
Tracking Number: 1jx-87bp-q09b
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Date Posted: Sep 6, 2013
RIN: Not Assigned
Category: Other Government - G0022