Cook County To Crack Down On Illegal Cigarette Sales

CHICAGO (WBBM) — Cash-strapped Cook County is stepping up its pursuit of illegal cigarette sales.

County Board President Toni Preckwinkle said Friday that the county has increased the number of teams going after people and businesses selling cigarettes without paying the county taxes.

In the last three weeks, revenue investigators and Cook County Sheriff’s Police have confiscated $353,000 worth of illegal cigarettes and levied more than $400,000 in fines.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Nancy Harty reports

Preckwinkle said that selling cigarettes without the county’s $2-a-pack tax stamps is tax evasion and it hurts the county’s ability to deliver services.

Sheriff Tom Dart said illegal cigarette sales are lucrative enough to pay for brand new Chevy Explorer that a group of smugglers used to bring cigarettes from Missouri (where the tax is 7 cents a pack) to the Chicago area in only four trips.

Dart said that, over the last four years, county cigarette tax revenue has dropped by $74 million.

Preckwinkle acknowledged that some of the drop may be due to the state’s smoking ban and the bad economy, but she believes the majority of that is from illegal sales.

The county is offering a $1,000 reward for turning in anyone selling cigarettes without tax stamps.

  • PG

    Look at the contrast in taxes on cigarettes between Cook County and the state of Missouri. $2/pack in taxes in Cook County, 7 cents/pack in taxes in the state of Missouri. Why does Cook County need so much money on cigarette taxes? I don’t smoke, but this is just another example of how people who live in this county are getting ripped off by a corrupt and wasteful county government.

  • less-crime

    county cigarette tax revenue has dropped by $74 million whidh the cook county can not steal good reason for them to get mad. Another dumb tax down the drain time to cut some of those fat pay checks.

  • Mohammed Bin

    It is time for a tax revolt, I have a relataive drawning two pension, one from the city and one from the county that is whiy property and sales taxes are draining evernyone it time for a revolt

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