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A.O. Kime Articles:

AGRICULTURE
Betrayal
Biocontrols
Bio-oddity #1
Bio-oddity #2
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Kansas Settlement
Kime ordeal
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Two Septembers
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SOCIOPOLITICAL
19th century
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Where to buy cigarettes… smokers fighting back

artist rendition of marble columned building

Buying cigarettes in Mexico, over the Internet, rolling your own and growing your own tobacco from seed

NOTICE: See further below (under 'roll your own cigarettes') for information about the outrageous federal tobacco tax increases which went into effect April 1, 2009 (so much for Obama's pledge of no new taxes for the poor and middle class!)

UPDATE: On April 2, 2009, the House passed legislation (298-112) giving the FDA control over tobacco (but not the authority to ban)

Item of Interest:
The US International Trade Commission (USITC) recently closed (May, 2009) the process for all interested parties to submit their comments about the Philip Morris request to ban the purchase of cigarettes over the Internet from foreign-based websites (shipped from overseas). While we responded in opposition, as of July 19, 2009, apparently no decision has yet been reached. See alerts for more information (and to see our letter).

-----------------

Tired of having the government telling you what you can’t do with your own body? So am I. After all… it isn’t theirs. It is a mentality from the Dark Ages.

More specifically, smokers are tired of being unfairly punished with burdensome taxes on tobacco and any freedom-loving soul can see the hypocrisy of it all, the lies… all of which are put forth in my articles on Tobacco Taxation and Constitutional Rights (high tobacco taxes aren’t about concerns for health as the states claim but instead it’s about generating revenue).

In order to help smokers find a solution until legislators come to their senses (if they're not sooner hung from a sour apple tree), the following is information on where and how smokers can buy (or make) cigarettes reasonably priced.

NOTICE: In presenting the following information, this website strives only to be helpful and should not be relied upon for accuracy or the latest developments (although on both counts we try)... anything of a factual nature herein should be independently verified. It otherwise amounts to opinions, not advice.

Buying cigarettes in Mexico

Perhaps the best option for U.S. citizens who live close to the Mexican border is to buy them in Mexico where American brand cigarettes run $12 -20 a carton (Mexican brands cheaper). However, not being a federal matter (surprisingly), the duty rate and the number of cartons allowed are regulated by each state.

Don’t forget though… along with possibly other requirements, you now need a passport to enter Mexico… see the U.S. Department of State website for further details and warnings plus see the Mexican Embassy website for their latest entry requirements.

Note: While we acquired the following information from speaking with a border agent by telephone at the points of entry listed below, you are advised to first call the points of entry (external website) to double-check as it could vary depending on the agent on duty (phone numbers are listed for all points of entry on their website).

Arizona: At the Douglas, Arizona port of entry, we were told you can purchase one carton of American brand cigarettes per month (duty free) but, due to recent regulations, cannot bring more… not even by paying duty or additional fees. As for Mexican cigarettes, the number of cartons allowed is limited to what border agents consider a ‘personal use’ amount and subject to $3.97 duty per carton. As generally the case in the past, six cartons would be considered a reasonable amount.

New Mexico: At the Columbus, New Mexico port of entry, we were told that except for $2.40 federal tax there is no duty on American brand cigarettes and the number of cartons allowed is determined by what is considered ‘personal use’ by the immigration official on duty. According to an officer on duty, if you lived far outside the Columbus area, you would be allowed more cartons than local residents (or up to 6-10 cartons).

Texas: At the Brownsville, Texas port of entry, we were told you can only bring back one carton ‘duty free’ but must pay $15 state tax. No more are allowed, the agent said, but a representative with the Texas taxing authority thought this was in error… that perhaps you could bring back up to three (3) cartons. At any rate, with the $15 tax on each carton, there is little (less) incentive to buy cigarettes in Mexico and bring them back through a Texas port of entry.

California: At the Calexico, California port of entry, we were told you can bring back one carton of cigarettes per month duty free and up to seven (7) additional cartons by paying a duty of $4.00 per carton (whether American or Mexican brands). However, only one carton if bought from a duty-free shop.

The following is from the Customs and Border Protection's Customer Service Center (external website) but should not be assumed as being the most current regulations/law: Note: their customer service center is really a service center from hell (a nightmarish website)... it took three (3) months to get the following information (but which ignored our explicit request for duty rates on cigarettes for more than one carton):

A traveler may include up to 100 cigars and 200 cigarettes (one carton) in the $800 exemption from duty. U.S. residents on State Department-licensed travel to Cuba may no longer bring cigars or other goods back with them from their visit.

Additional cigars and cigarettes may be brought into the country, but they will be subject to duty and taxes. Cigarettes may also be subject to a tax imposed by state and local authorities. Bidis - essentially flavored cigarettes - are not generally permitted entry. Once every 31 days, a resident returning from travel from American Samoa, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, or the Virgin Islands of the United States may import 1,000 cigarettes (5 cartons), not more than 200 of which acquired elsewhere than in such locations, within the returning resident's $1,200 exemption from duty and taxes.

Unless you’re willing to wait three months for just a computer-generated answer like the one above, for any updated information you can contact them by calling their toll free number 877-227-5511 (or 202-354-1000 if calling from outside the United States). No telling how long you’d be put on hold however… hopefully less than a couple hours (another example our inept institutions).

One particular outfit running duty-free shops is Duty Free Americas (a travel retailer website) with 29 stores on the American side of the Mexican border in California, Arizona and Texas (none in any New Mexico border towns). While priced at about what you'd pay in Mexico, there is as a curious requirement... after purchasing cigarettes at these duty-free shops located on the American side of the border, you must then enter Mexico at least briefly (clerks from the store watch to make sure you actually enter Mexico). Unless you have other business in Mexico, all you have to do after entering Mexico is walk across the street and then re-enter the U.S. (there is no 'time limit').

Buying cigarettes over the Internet

One must be cautious buying cigarettes on the Internet from any U.S. based company… a few of which have knuckled-under to the illegal pressure from state authorities demanding their customer list (a violation of the Privacy Act). Once obtained, the states can then go after those smokers for 'unpaid state taxes' albeit with no constitutional right to these exorbitant taxes. However, while most of the 100+ website vendors haven’t knuckled under (estimated to be 78%... in defense citing privacy laws largely), but in considering the possibility of more stringent laws (Orwellian in nature), perhaps it’s really just a matter of ‘yet’.

Also, buying over the Internet might require a change in how you'd normally like it delivered. Common carriers like UPS are barred in Arizona from delivering cigarettes (unknown for other states)... although the judicially-minded U.S. Postal Service has so far resisted all attempts to undermine its ability to serve the American people and thus will still deliver cigarettes (however, depending on the state, priority mail only).

The other option is to take your chances with an overseas company. Whether or not they are reputable is the question... although it only takes one transaction to quickly find out. Evidently still being the case, as long as an order of cigarettes is sent through the mail, there is little chance it would be confiscated by customs officials somewhere along the line (in contrast to those avaricious boatload shipments begging for confiscation).

But with this risk (if any), comes a safeguard. Russian businesses, for example, wouldn’t ever feel obligated to provide a customer list to any state authority from America. The state's pleas would fall on deaf ears... certainly stating their desire to balance their budgets on the backs of smokers wouldn't work. At any rate, in the spirit of the Boston Tea Party, it would be more patriotic to risk losing an occasional shipment than to pay the tax.

The states claim their rights to cigarette taxes sold over the Internet is covered by the Jenkins Act which was enacted in 1949... but enacted long before there was an Internet. In a very interesting May 2003 GAO report on Internet Cigarette Sales subtitled "Limited Compliance and Enforcement of the Jenkins Act Result in Loss of State Tax Revenue" (in testimony before the House Subcommittee on Courts, the Internet, and Intellectual Property), it cites all the reasons the states have been largely unsuccessful in collecting these taxes. It also cites the reasons why the federal authorities haven't been cooperating with the states even though the bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) is now in charge of the matter. This report is dated however... new developments may have occurred since then.

The following is a sampling of that most interesting 15 page report:

Through our Internet search efforts, we identified 147 Web site addresses for Internet cigarette vendors based in the United States and reviewed each website linked to these addresses. Our review of the Web sites found no information suggesting that the vendors comply with the Jenkins Act. Some vendors cited reasons for not complying that we could not substantiate. A few Web sites specifically mentioned the vendors’ Jenkins Act reporting responsibilities, but these Web sites also indicated that the vendors do not comply with the act. Some Web sites provided notice to consumers of their potential state tax liability for Internet cigarette purchases.

None of the 147 Web sites we reviewed stated that the vendor complies with the Jenkins Act and reports cigarette sales to state tobacco tax administrators. Conversely, as shown in table 2, information posted on 114 (78 percent) of the Web sites indicated the vendors’ noncompliance with the act through a variety of statements posted on the sites. Thirty- three Web sites (22 percent) provided no indication about whether or not the vendors comply with the act.

_

Some Internet vendors cited specific reasons on their Web sites for not reporting cigarette sales to state tax authorities as required by the Jenkins Act. Seven of the Web sites reviewed (5 percent) posted statements asserting that customer information is protected from release to anyone, including state authorities, under privacy laws. Seventeen Web sites (12 percent) state that they are not required to report information to state tax authorities and/or are not subject to the Jenkins Act reporting requirements. Fifteen of these 17 sites are Native American, with 7 of the sites specifically indicating that they are exempt from reporting to states either because they are Native American businesses or because of their sovereign nation status. In addition, 35 Native American Web sites (40 percent of all the Native American sites we reviewed) indicate that their tobacco products are available tax-free because they are Native American businesses.

_

Only 8 (5 percent) of the 147 Web sites we reviewed notified customers that the Jenkins Act requires the vendor to report cigarette sales to state tax authorities, which could result in potential customer tax liability. However, in each of these cases, the Web sites that provided notices of Jenkins Act responsibilities also followed the notice with a statement challenging the applicability of the act and indicating that the vendor does not comply. Twenty-eight Web sites (19 percent) either provided notice of potential customer tax liability for Internet cigarette purchases or recommended that customers contact their state tax authorities to determine if they are liable for taxes on such purchases. Three other sites (2 percent) notified customers that they are responsible for complying with cigarette laws in their state, but did not specifically mention taxes. Of the 147 Web sites we reviewed, 108 (73 percent) did not provide notice of either the vendors’ Jenkins Act reporting responsibilities or the customers’ responsibilities, including potential tax liability, with regard to their states.

Hurrah for those websites who understand and honor the constitutional rights of American citizens (which the majority of legislators don't) !!!

Roll your own cigarettes

(Since April 1, 2009 the following indented paragraph no longer applies but left for comparative purposes)

Bulk cigarette tobacco (available in small canisters at most any tobacco store) is equivalent to about $9-12 per carton and if you want to use a tobacco rolling machine ($20-35), the cigarette tubes (200 per box) run about $2-3 for a total cost of about $11-15 per carton. They make nice looking cigarettes (as if manufactured cigarettes) and the major brands of Top, Bugler and American Spirit all make very good smoking tobacco. There are more choices (including higher quality) and cheaper bulk tobacco on the Internet however.

Notice: On April 1, 2009, the tax rate on bulk tobacco increased from $1.0969 per pound to $24.78 per pound. Not only is this 2,300% increase outrageous, downright cruel, but by putting the burden on smokers (only) to fund the Children’s Health Insurance Program is unconstitutional... even by their own admittance.

The following WAS an excerpt from "Majority Rule, Minority Rights" on the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of International Information Programs website... but since moved or deleted:

Minorities -- whether as a result of ethnic background, religious belief, geographic location, income level, or simply as the losers in elections or political debate -- enjoy guaranteed basic human rights that no government, and no majority, elected or not, should remove.

Unequal taxation IS a violation of human rights and with a majority of legislators ignoring this reality is a clear sign America has gone to the dogs. It's far-far worse than the infamous British tea tax leveled on Americans which prompted the rebellious Boston Tea Party in 1773. After all, a taxman reaching across an ocean is not nearly as bad as one singling out a minority for punishment. Of course, it's the lowlife insurance companies for whom legislators prostitute themselves.

While the recent tax rate changes to code 26 USC 5701 (external website) have not, as of 4/4/09, been reflected on the U.S. government website, reviewing it anyway would help make sense of the following new Public Law 111-3 (enacted February 4, 2009) (external website):

SEC. 701. INCREASE IN EXCISE TAX RATE ON TOBACCO PRODUCTS.

(a) Cigars.--Section 5701(a) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 <<NOTE: 26 USC 5701.>> is amended--
(1) by striking ``$1.828 cents per thousand ($1.594 cents per thousand on cigars removed during 2000 or 2001)'' in
paragraph (1) and inserting ``$50.33 per thousand'',
(2) by striking ``20.719 percent (18.063 percent on cigars removed during 2000 or 2001)'' in paragraph (2) and inserting
``52.75 percent'', and
(3) by striking ``$48.75 per thousand ($42.50 per thousand on cigars removed during 2000 or 2001)'' in paragraph (2) and inserting ``40.26 cents per cigar''.

(b) Cigarettes.--Section 5701(b) of such Code is amended--
(1) by striking ``$19.50 per thousand ($17 per thousand on cigarettes removed during 2000 or 2001)'' in paragraph (1) and inserting ``$50.33 per thousand'', and
(2) by striking ``$40.95 per thousand ($35.70 per thousand on cigarettes removed during 2000 or 2001)'' in paragraph (2) and inserting ``$105.69 per thousand''.

(c) Cigarette Papers.--Section 5701(c) of such Code is amended by striking ``1.22 cents (1.06 cents on cigarette papers removed during 2000 or 2001)'' and inserting ``3.15 cents''.

(d) Cigarette Tubes.--Section 5701(d) of such Code is amended by striking ``2.44 cents (2.13 cents on cigarette tubes removed during 2000 or 2001)'' and inserting ``6.30 cents''.

(e) Smokeless Tobacco.--Section 5701(e) of such Code is amended--
(1) by striking ``58.5 cents (51 cents on snuff removed during 2000 or 2001)'' in paragraph (1) and inserting ``$1.51'',
and
(2) by striking ``19.5 cents (17 cents on chewing tobacco removed during 2000 or 2001)'' in paragraph (2) and inserting
``50.33 cents''.

(f) Pipe Tobacco.--Section 5701(f) of such Code is amended by striking ``$1.0969 cents (95.67 cents on pipe tobacco removed during 2000 or 2001)'' and inserting ``$2.8311 cents''.

(g) Roll-Your-Own Tobacco.--Section 5701(g) of such Code is amended by striking ``$1.0969 cents (95.67 cents on roll-your-own tobacco removed during 2000 or 2001)'' and inserting ``$24.78''.

To see how your legislators voted, see http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2009/roll050.xml

Take note, in signing this into law, Obama reneged on his promise of no tax increases for the poor and middle class. Perhaps though, he believes only rich people smoke (top 5%).

Meanwhile, the homeless continue to go begging because helping them won't also benefit any fat cats.

Growing your own tobacco

While growing your own tobacco wouldn't exactly be a convenient undertaking for a non-gardener, or for folks without a place for a garden, but perhaps it's the best way to deny the states this unconstitutional tax. Not only would it save hundreds (thousands) annually, it's a statement of defiance... grandly Americana. Tobacco isn’t an illegal substance nor is there a law against growing it (yet)… provided of course it isn’t on a commercial scale in which case you’d need an allotment from the USDA. In doing a search for “tobacco seeds and plants” and you’ll find several sources for seed. Tobacco can be grown almost anywhere in the U.S. (even in Tucson, Arizona... as was once the case for centuries).

Of course, growing your own tobacco will only be possible until we’ll need a permit to grow a garden… coming soon in our Orwellian society. After all, the FDA wants to control herbs as well as tobacco.

Buying cigarettes across the state line

Since the tax on cigarettes varies between states, one could consider buying them in a neighboring state as their tax rate may be lower. However, residents could be limited as to how many can be 'legally' purchased out-of-state and brought back without being liable for tobacco taxes within their own state. Seemingly however, except for Tennessee, most (or many) states have opted NOT to vigilantly enforce this due to the cost. While import limits are unknown on a state-by-state basis, for state-by-state tax rates see http://tobaccofreekids.org/reports/settlements (pick a state on their map to see the details). While it is an anti-smoking website, it is clearly evident they are upset with most states for diverting cigarette tax revenue into their general fund. As we all know, it was supposed to be used for prevention and smoking related illnesses.

Buying cigarettes on the Indian reservations

Cigarettes for sale on Indian reservations are generally a few dollars cheaper per carton since many are not required to collect all tobacco taxes (partially exempt). Any savings would vary between states and reservations. As far as we know, there is no purchase limit imposed by any state.

Summary

Hopefully this webpage was helpful. As pointed out in my article Tobacco Taxation and Constitutional Rights, the whole matter surrounding tobacco regulations and taxes is a travesty.

The answer? Vote the guilty (traitorous legislators) out of office and cancel your health insurance polices. After all, insurance companies are behind this 'anti-smoking' madness... this intrusion into our private affairs. Besides, an insurance policy will likely NOT keep you from going bankrupt over a major illness. They won't pay but a portion so for many of us, there's little difference in owing the whole amount or a significant share... either way it will likely amount to a bankrupt situation.

These days, having insurance is like trying to fly to safety with half-enough gas... you're still doomed.

Good luck in your quest for justice.

A.O. Kime

Last modified: 10/25/13