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    Massachusetts Panel Eyes Tobacco Smuggling

    Department of Revenue commission will determine the scope of the black market.

    BOSTON -- The Massachusetts Department of Revenue has convened a special commission to study the economic impact of the illegal distribution of cigarettes and tobacco products in the state. The panel will hold its first meeting on Monday.

    According to the department, the panel was created by legislation in the fiscal year 2014 budget to determine the scope of the black market tobacco trade and recommend legislation, enforcement and penalties to strengthen tobacco excise and sales tax collections.

    "Tobacco smuggling is a growing problem that we share with many states," said Massachusetts Revenue Commissioner Amy Pitter, who serves as chair of the commission. "We know that it takes many forms, at the local, state and international levels. This commission has a knowledgeable and diverse group of stakeholders, and the time is right to work together to better understand the problem, put a price tag on what it means in terms of lost revenue and identify the best ways to stop smuggling."

    Pitter said the panel will look at how other states combat counterfeit tax stamps and underground distribution rings. It will also hear how tobacco manufacturers are trying to determine the extent of the illegal tobacco trade.

    Under the law, the special commission must report on its findings and recommendations and submit draft legislation by March 1, 2014.

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