The Illegal Tobacco Commission is set to begin deliberating on how best to combat the illegal tobacco market in Massachusetts. Commission members met January 9th to hear final recommendations from federal officials, wholesalers, and retailers. It was the Commission’s fifth meeting since convening in October 2013.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) suggested the creation of a taskforce allowing multiple agencies to collaborate on enforcement efforts, echoing previous recommendation by other speakers before the commission. Associate Chief Counsel Jeff Cohen also said hitting traffickers hard through greater fines and penalties helps put them out of commission. The use of forfeitures, seizures, and fines for later tobacco enforcement operations is also considered a good practice by the ATF.
The Northeast Association of Wholesale Distributors and New England Convenience Store Association also presented before the commission. Representatives proposed stricter licensing requirements, more detailed invoices, publishing an online list of licensed businesses, and minimum pricing for tobacco products. Tobacco violations could also be tied to the suspension or revocation of lottery licenses.
The Illegal Tobacco Commission meets again January 30th. It will be the first meeting where members discuss which recommendations they plan to submit to legislature. Their final recommendations must be made no later than March 1st, 2014. Illegal Tobacco Commission Homepage