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Over-the-counter sales of out-of-state and counterfeit tax stamp cigarettes in New York City
  1. Diana Silver1,
  2. Margaret M Giorgio1,
  3. Jin Yung Bae1,
  4. Geronimo Jimenez1,
  5. James Macinko2
  1. 1Department of Nutrition, Food Studies and Public Health, Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development, New York University, New York, New York, USA
  2. 2Departments of Health Policy and Management and Community Health Sciences, UCLA Fielding School of Public Health, Los Angeles, California, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Diana Silver, Department of Nutrition, Food Studies and Public, Health, Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development, New York University, 411, Lafayette Street, 5th Floor, New York, NY 10003, USA; diana.silver{at}


Background New York City (NYC) has strict minimum cigarette price and tax stamp laws, but evidence regarding the extent of evasion of such laws in over-the-counter sales is scarce.

Methods 830 packs were purchased at licensed tobacco retailers at 92 randomly selected neighbourhoods in NYC in spring and fall 2014, following the establishment of NYC's minimum price law. The χ2 analyses of illegal tax stamps on pack, by retailer type and data collection period, are presented.

Results Over 15% of packs purchased had out-of-state (4.5%) or counterfeit tax stamps (10.6%). Purchases resulted in at least one illegal pack obtained in 70% of neighbourhoods, largely from independent stores. In 21.5% of sampled neighbourhoods, it was possible to purchase an illegal pack each collection period.

Conclusions Enhanced enforcement of retail sales of cigarettes is needed to ensure the full benefit of existing tobacco control laws in NYC.

  • Illegal tobacco products
  • Public policy
  • Surveillance and monitoring

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