State tobacco tax advisory committee member recommends flushing tobacco tax down the toilet

Tuesday, November 15th 2005, 5:25 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- A member of Oklahoma's tobacco tax advisory committee says the state's current system of collecting cigarette taxes should be scrapped and flushed down a toilet.

Tobacco wholesaler Ron Cross -- president and chief executive officer of Indian Nation Wholesale Company -- said yesterday that problems started when Governor Brad Henry signed compacts with American Indian tribes granting them special cigarette tax discount rates for border stores.

The tax is blamed for sending smokers to buy cigarettes in states with lower taxes and giving some American Indian tribes an unfair advantage over non-tribal retailers.

Non-tribal retailers must affix a $1.03 stamp on each pack of cigarettes, while tribal stamps range from 6 to 86 cents.

James Wilbanks with the state treasurer's office says in hindsight the state should've included stronger enforcement provisions in some compacts.

On the upside health officials say about 30,000 Oklahomans have quit smoking as a result of the tax. Oklahoma Tax Commission records show tribal and non-tribal cigarette sales are down 16 percent compared with a year ago.