Letter to Southampton Press: Cigarette Tax Is Destructive and Will Not Work

September 18, 2010

Dear Editor:

At this writing the proposed New York state tax on cigarettes sold on Indian reservations to non-Indians is tied up in the courts.  What would happen if most of the population of Southampton should lose their jobs?  Would that warrant headlines and marching in the streets? This is the prospective faced by a large portion of the118 residents of the Shinnecock and Poospatuck reservations on Long Island.

NY State has a 9 billion deficit,  A re-instatement of the stock transfer tax - New York  State presently collects a very small tax on each stock transfer, but then rebates the tax, now in excess of $16 billion annually - or an increase in the tax on incomes of $250k or greater would bring in more that the $200 million that might be collected by taxing cigarettes sold on reservations. 

But whether any sales will be made on the reservations without the price advantage now
enjoyed by Native smoke shops is questionable.

The real reason for the legislation which has been proposed for years is to reward the convenience store supporters of the powers in Albany.   This can only bring more poverty and its resultant increase in drugs and crime  to our area.  

I looked for news about this impending disaster in the local media and found none. 

Two weeks ago New York's Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a friend of a large player in upstate convenience stores, recalling the days when states paid for Indian scalps, told a radio host that he had advised the Governor to 

"get yourself a cowboy hat and a shotgun. If there’s ever a great video, it’s you standing in the middle of the New York State Thruway saying, you know, ‘Read my lips – the law of the land is this, and we’re going to enforce the law." 

Apparently racist speech directed at  our native neighbors is acceptable.  Not a word about this was in the downstate papers. Where is the outrage?

Anthony Ernst