Over-the-counter sales of out-of-state and counterfeit tax stamp cigarettes in New York City

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Abstract

Background

New York City (NYC) has strict minimum cigarette price and tax stamp laws, but evidence regarding the extent of evasion of such laws in over-the-counter sales is scarce.

Methods

830 packs were purchased at licensed tobacco retailers at 92 randomly selected neighbourhoods in NYC in spring and fall 2014, following the establishment of NYC's minimum price law. The χ2 analyses of illegal tax stamps on pack, by retailer type and data collection period, are presented.

Results

Over 15% of packs purchased had out-of-state (4.5%) or counterfeit tax stamps (10.6%). Purchases resulted in at least one illegal pack obtained in 70% of neighbourhoods, largely from independent stores. In 21.5% of sampled neighbourhoods, it was possible to purchase an illegal pack each collection period.

Conclusions

Enhanced enforcement of retail sales of cigarettes is needed to ensure the full benefit of existing tobacco control laws in NYC.

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