Tennessee Residents Crossing State Line To Buy Cigarettes

By: Jeff Allen Email
By: Jeff Allen Email

Many Tennessee residents say they're buying cigarettes in Kentucky these days thanks to a much higher Tennessee tax. Tennessee officials say if you're crossing the border with too many, you could be breaking the law.

The Tennessee cigarette tax more than tripled in July to over sixty cents a pack, much more than Kentucky's tax of thirty cents. Since then, Tennessee revenue officials say they suspect people are illegally smuggling cigarettes.

The owner of Mike's Seven Eleven in Middlesboro says business has increased since Tennessee's cigarette tax went up.

"People in Tennessee are buying their tobacco over here and you can't blame them," said Bill Wilcox.

Wilcox says even though business is booming, he worries about his customers.

"I'm not going to stop them. They can take their chances, but I'm afraid it's going to get some of them," Wilcox said.

One of his customers is Kathleen Hall who lives about 20 minutes away in New Tazewell Tennessee. She says it's not unusual for her to buy two to three cartons, but Tennessee Revenue officials say buying over two cartons and taking them across state lines is illegal.

Tennessee revenue officials say they're not trying to target just your average smoker.

"We're really not going after your average citizen saving money on cigarettes. We're going after people who are trying to smuggle and sell," said Sophie Moery with the Tennessee Department of Revenue.

Tennessee revenue officials say driving more than two cartons over the state line is considered a misdemeanor while taking more than 25 cartons is a felony offense.

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