Indian smokeshops being forced to go offline

Indian smokeshops are being forced to take their businesses offline and make layoffs as the result of a state-federal deal that tribes were excluded from.

All the major credit card companies recently agreed to stop accepting payments for tobacco products purchased online. State and federal authorities complained that Internet businesses weren't following the law by collecting state taxes and register purchased with states.

Maxine Jimerson, the owner of a smokeshop on the Seneca Reservation in New York, said she was making sure that buyers were of legal age. She disputes needing to pay state taxes.

Nevertheless, she has already been forced to shut down her online business and lay off 120 of 160 employees. She says up to 2,000 employees of other Indian smokeshops are affected.

State authorities, tobacco manufacturers and convenience store owners have been pushing bills in Congress to force Indian smokeshops to collect state taxes and register purchases. The bills would give states the power to take tribes and individual Indians to court.

Get the Story:
Trouble for Online Vendors of Cigarettes (The New York Times 4/4)
Internet cigarette sales take hit (The Buffalo News 4/4)
Senators call for collection of sales tax (The Syracuse Post-Standard 4/1)

Related Stories:
Convenience stores blame revenue loss on Indians (05/25)
Seneca Nation drops lawsuit over Internet tobacco (04/22)
House leader vows fight against tobacco tax bill (02/04)
Tobacco tax bill has broad group of supporters (2/2)
Tobacco tax bill still poses challenges for Indian Country (12/16)
Tribes left out of Internet and cigarette tax bills (11/19)