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Editorial: Tribes skirting state tobacco tax law

"Any doubt that some American Indian tobacco shops are skirting the state's tobacco tax law was erased last week during a meeting of a state House committee that's exploring Oklahoma's tobacco tax. One tribal official admitted as much.

Diane Hammons, who heads the Cherokee Nation's Justice Department, acknowledged that smoke shops licensed by the tribe are engaged in retail-to-retail sales. That is, Cherokee shops located in parts of the state where a higher tax stamp is required are buying cigarettes from stores that are allowed to sell them at the lowest tax rate, and then reselling them.

"We have allowed that to continue," Hammons told the House Revenue and Taxation Committee. "We could stop it."

But they haven't. The compact the Cherokees signed with the state last year requires smoke shops that are owned or licensed by the tribe to buy their tobacco products from wholesalers, and details which tax stamps should be affixed to cigarettes sold at various locations. A number of smoke shops are selling cigarettes at the lowest tax rate (6 cents per pack), regardless of location."

Get the Story:
Editorial: Smoke shops shuffle around tax law (The Oklahoman 11/27)

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