Crains: Businesses fight uphill battle against tobacco bills


New York City stores are losing more than $250 million a year to illegal sellers, according to the business leader, who hails from Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn.

“We are trying to destroy terrorists. Why don’t we target the black market as well?” said David Schwartz, spokesman for the New York Association of Grocery Stores, in a telephone interview.

“Mayor Bloomberg is creating a business enforcement that makes it impossible for small businesses to survive.”

He added, “It’s a lose-lose situation: Small businesses are losing thousands of jobs, and New York City doesn’t receive millions in taxes, because black market dealers don’t pay them.”

New York City is currently the nation’s most expensive city for smokers. Cigarette packs sold in legal retail shops have a $4 state tax and a $1.50 city tax. Since 2006, the taxes on a pack of smokes have risen 190%.

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