The commission also called for strengthening the state’s forfeiture laws and allowing for confiscated tobacco to be sold at auction, with the proceeds going to pay for enforcement efforts.
The multi-agency task force envisioned by the panel would include representatives from the revenue department, attorney general’s office, state police, the state treasurer’s office and Department of Public Health. The task force would need about $2 million a year to operate, the report said, a cost more than offset by the potential recovery of lost taxes.
Cracking down on black market tobacco would also benefit law-abiding cigarette vendors, the commission noted.
Paul Caron, executive director of the Northeast Association of Wholesale Distributors and a commission member, said in a statement that contraband tobacco “diverts millions in sales of tobacco products from our state’s retailers and the legitimate distribution chain.”