Friday, March 1, 2013

Chicago's Growing Cigarette Black Market: Cook Co. Increases Cig Taxes Again

Is Elliott Ness available to fight
the tax-induced cigarette bootleggers?
 Democrat Cook County Board President, Toni Preckwinkle's new $1 a pack cigarette tax goes into effect today.

That makes the government taxes on a pack of smokes in Cook county, second highest in the nation at $6.67 compared to New York City's $6.86. A pack of cigarettes will now cost around $11 in the Cook County part of Chicagoland.

The Hyde Park Obamaite liberal says she needs the cash this will supposedly generate to help drum up another $25 million to pay for the county's skyrocketing health care costs.

But Preckwinkle said during her campaign that she refuses to deny even long-term, non emergency medical care to the thousands of illegal aliens who are clogging Cook County Hospital. The county is, after all, a "Sanctuary county."

God knows what that is costing.

So Preckwinkle today is increasing county sales taxes on a package of cigarettes by yet another $1.

This, back door prohibition of tobacco, like the earlier prohibition on booze has spawned a growing Chicago area criminal underworld in which cigarettes are sold at great profit by unauthorized black market vendors.

Sort of like 21st century bootleggers.

And it's mostly Chicago's black community, Preckwinkle's key political base, that is being exploited.

Just go to the black neighborhood on Evanston's Northwest side.

There a Pakistani Muslim corner store merchant illegally sells neighborhood blacks, mostly youths, single cigarettes for $1 each. At $20 a pack, he's making a tidy profit on black market cig sales.

Cigarette Prohibitionist Preckwinkle
A few blocks away, an elderly African-American man has fashioned a lucrative cottage industry in selling single cigarettes from his home at $1 each or 3 for $2.70.

And he has a regular line to his door at all hours. This sexagenarian cigarette black marketeer has amassed such a tidy sum that he threw a neighborhood Christmas party with free drinks and eats for his neighborhood customers.

Reminds one of the free food giveaways of an earlier Chicago black market entrtepreneur, Alphonse Capone.

And just a few months back, the nearby Walgreens on Chicago Avenue in Evanston was burglarized at night twice within a span of several weeks.

What was taken? Drugs? Cash? Booze?

No -- you guessed it -- the Walgreens burglars got off with multiple cartons of cigarettes.

I don't know if Chicago area gangs have begun trafficking in Newports and Marlboros, but with the legal cost of cigarettes now higher than the price of a comparable number of marijuana cigarettes, that can't be far off.

There's gold in them thar smokes.

One elderly wheelchair-bound entrepreneur hawks single smokes for a buck a piece, right from his wheelchair which can be regularly found tooling around Broadway near Wilson, in Uptown.

Another mom and pop corner grocery store, operated by Arabs, near Lockwood and Chicago Avenue had its license to vend cigarettes yanked for selling untax-stamped cigarette packs.

Unfazed, the Levantine merchants now simply keep tax-free cigarettes in the trunk of their car, off the premises.

When a customer gives them a certain password, they sell them the cigs they want off-premises. So now we have cigarette sales passwords, just like from the good old days of the speakeasies.

In fact, the Cook County Sheriff is already finding entire truckloads of counterfeit cigarettes from China, complete with counterfeit Illinois and Cook County tax stamps.

And a recent University of Illinois study found that around 75% of cigarettes consumed in Chicago were from packs without a Chicago tax stamp.

Oh, and by the way. As part of Preckwinkle's prohibitionist cigarette tax hike bill, she authorizes the Cook County Revenue Department to hire more staff to help stop tobacco smuggling and tax evasion.

Is Elliott Ness still available to head this up?


  1. I just overheard a conversation on the street between 2 of Mrs. Preckwinkles constituents. One was offering to sell the other a "roll" for 25 cents. That is slang for a cheap roll your own cigarette and before the taxes they used to cost around 80 cents for a whole pack of 35. So I guess you should say that Mrs. Preckwinkle is promoting free enterprise in an odd way.

  2. I go to Tinley Park every 5 weeks to purchase cigarettes.

    Taxes on everything in this city are out of control. I am tired of the tax surprise when I check out at Jewel, CVS, or Walgreens. Thank god they can't tax food.

  3. Oh, and by the way. As part of Preckwinkle's prohibitionist cigarette tax hike bill, she authorizes the Cook County Revenue Department to hire more staff to help stop tobacco smuggling and tax evasion.

    Preckwinkle is going to stop nothing. She's just going to hire some "fambily and friends".

  4. county and state should lower the tax on smoke its hurting all business hiring more staff will do nothing people go to Bensenville and buy five to six cartons and sell to their friends at cost in Chicago mal carton cost $110 and Bensenville only twenty five minutes drive cost $60 plzzz save our business care about us not your family and friends

  5. Thats true.. Im a business owner, I see and agree that people go outside of cook, resell and I bet the total money lost is higher than the $1 increase...

    1. I think you are entirely correct. It is simple Economics 101 -- something that has seemed to quite escape the Toni Preckwinkels and Todd Strogers of the Chicago political fantasyland.


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