A thriving underground market in tobacco products is a serious threat to effective regulation and public health. That's why we have advocated for state and federal laws that combat the growth of underground criminal markets with rigorous licensing, registration, and other important controls on the entire chain of distribution.

Among other things, we vigorously supported the enactment of the federal Contraband Cigarette Trafficking Act and the Prevent All Cigarette Trafficking (PACT) Act, which established critical federal enforcement mechanisms to stem smuggling and other illegal activity. But as we have seen with alcohol and cannabis prohibition, addressing large illegal markets through the criminal justice system alone can have many unintended consequences.

In 2020, we continued to work with stakeholders – like law enforcement – to raise policy makers' awareness of the serious costs of excessive taxation and extreme product restrictions. For example, following the total flavor ban enacted in Massachusetts in 2019, we joined with retailers and other stakeholders in educating policy makers in a number of states about the impact this ban has had in the Northeast region. As a result of this ban, Massachusetts lost over $69 million in excise tax revenue in the first six months of the ban, but total cigarette volume in the region did not decline. Adult consumers simply shifted their flavored tobacco product purchases to neighboring states or to the illegal market. 

Additionally, some products the FDA has determined are "appropriate for the protection of public health" were included in this ban, reducing the potential availability of products to help Massachusetts adult smokers 21 and over move away from cigarettes and toward smoke-free alternatives.


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