Connecticut steps up fight against bootlegged cigarettes

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HARTFORD — Connecticut is stepping up the fight against the trafficking of bootlegged cigarettes moving from low-tax states and into lucrative Northeast markets.

Significant state tax increases have had the unintended consequence of luring bootleggers profiting from selling cigarettes tax-free.

The state Department of Revenue Services has established a tobacco enforcement unit and is working more closely with New York and other neighboring states to halt deliveries at ports, highways and on the Internet.

Revenue Commissioner Kevin Sullivan said Connecticut has periodically made arrests for illegal cigarette sales from stores, but failed to do enough to block bootlegged cigarettes as they arrive.

Officials also want to stem an annual tax loss of nearly $60 million and halt efforts by criminals who skim money from illegal cigarette sales to fund terrorism.

To see cigarette taxes and cigarette smuggling by state, click here.