Choking the air out of online cigarette sales

Bargain hunters who have enjoyed substantial savings by buying online cigarettes will have to find a new avenue to cut back on the cost of their smoking habit. Last week major credit card companies engaged in an agreement with the government to discontinue participating in Internet sales of cigarettes. In other words, you will no longer be able to charge your cigarette purchase from an Internet store to any major credit card company.

This nationwide agreement will assist the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to control cigarettes purchased across state lines and has gone into effect immediately.

Not only will the credit card companies refuse to allow smokers to charge their cigarette purchases but they will also take action against Internet companies that are found in violation of the cigarette sales state and federal laws. It’s Illegal? What many consumers who have purchased tobacco products online in the past may not realize is that such purchases are against the law in several states.

Michigan taught many of their smokers a big lesson last month by sending 553 tax notices out to various consumers who made online cigarette purchases. They obtained the residents names by subpoenaing 13 online tobacco shops for names and the order history of Michigan customers. On the first round of tax bills sent the state of Michigan looks to collect $1.4 million or an average of $2,500 per person. Those individuals who received the tax bills had a deadline of March 14 to come up with the money.

«At its most fundamental level, this is an issue of tax fairness,» State Treasurer Jay B. Rising said in a statement. «It is only right that out of state vendors, who conduct business only online and at arms length, follow the letter of the law. These taxes are collected by brick and mortar businesses in Michigan, and Internet vendors should not be allowed to skirt their responsibility.»

«By working with all the major card companies, we will severely restrict the availability of the Internet retailers to make these illegal sales,» said Spitzer, one of the lead attorneys general in the agreement.

Attorneys general from California, Oregon let the negotiations and Colorado, Idaho, Louisiana, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Vermont and Wisconsin also participated. Big Brother May Be Watching Smokers that are not afraid of being hunted down can still buy cigarettes online but they will have to pay for them with personal checks, money orders or some other payment arrangement.

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