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TULSA, Okla. -- Oklahoma's move to renegotiate the tobacco compacts between the state and Native American tribes is getting a thumbs-up from one convenience store chain.
"We're on record as saying years ago the tobacco compacts in our opinion should have been structured the same as the motor fuel compacts," said Mike Thornbrugh, spokesman for Tulsa, Okla.-based QuikTrip Corp. "It sounds like the current administration is having the new compacts structured as one [tax] stamp instead of the stupid eight-stamp structure."
According to The Associated Press, earlier this year, Gov. Mary Fallin rejected a request that the current tribal tobacco compacts be extended and opened negotiations for new compacts calling for the tribes to pay the full $1.03-per-pack state tax on cigarettes, with the state reimbursing the tribes up to 50 percent. The compacts, which are set to expire this year, provided for taxes ranging from 6 cents per pack to the full $1.03.
The lower taxes were for tribes near the state's border with states such as Kansas and Missouri that have lower tobacco taxes. Fallin's office said agreements have been reached with seven tribes and negotiations are continuing with 20 others, the news agency reported.
Tribes that sell tobacco products without a compact pay approximately 75 percent of the $1.03-per-pack tax paid by non-tribal retailers.
Thornbrugh said all tobacco sellers paying the same tax would create a level field of competition for customers, unlike the current compacts that he said drove customers away from non-tribal retailers who charged about $10 more per carton.
"We would hope there is a provision [in the new compacts] that the rebates can't be used to subsidize smoke shops and reduce the price of tobacco," he said.
He pointed to the motor fuels agreement in which the tribes pay the same excise tax as other retailers and receive a rebate that can only be used for items such as tribal housing or medical clinics.
QuikTrip Corp. operates more than 650 convenience stores.