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Latest Cuomo crusade: Stop illegal cigarette dealers in New York

This Tuesday, Dec. 17, 2019 photo shows a group of cigarettes in New York. (AP Photo/Patrick Sison)

New York’s governor wants the state to crack down on retailers who illegally sell out-of-state, untaxed cigarettes.

Governor Andrew Cuomo says such retailers would face possible closure under the ninth proposal of his 2020 State of the State agenda released Friday.

New York currently has the second-highest tax rate on cigarettes in the nation, according to Cuomo’s office. He says retailers who try to evade such taxes by trafficking cheap, untaxed cigarettes are reducing state revenues and undermining anti-smoking efforts.

“Cigarettes claim thousands of lives each year, and we will not turn a blind eye to retailers who deliberately flout the law just to make an extra buck at the expense of the health of New Yorkers,” Cuomo said.

The Democrat is also proposing to allow state regulators to effectively shut down retailers who sell tobacco products to New Yorkers under 21 years old. In November, New York raised the legal age for purchasing tobacco and e-cigarette products to 21.

Cuomo wants to boost the minimum fine for selling products to individuals under 21 from $300 to $1,000, with multiple offenses possibly leading to the loss of registration for one year up from six months.

Associated Press