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    Wilson Farms, NYACS Fight Cigarette Tax Hike

    The proposed increase would double the current tax for cigarettes in New York.

    BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Wilson Farms Neighborhood Food Stores, operator of nearly 200 c-stores, along with the New York Association of Convenience Stores (NYACS), voiced opposition to a proposal that would double the cigarette tax being assessed in the state.

    The convenience retailer maintains that such efforts, which are reportedly under consideration for the next state budget, would be disastrous for state revenues, public health and small businesses. The current state tax levied on cigarettes is $1.50 per pack.

    "If the State of New York was collecting all of the cigarette taxes it's supposed to by law, there wouldn't be any need for a conversation about a new excise tax," Wilson Farms president and CEO, Paul Nanula, said in a statement. "If the revenue from the current law is not in the new budget, then one could conclude that our state government is premeditating not to enforce the law."

    The convenience retailer cited NYACS' previous arguments that if assessed, the tax would result in less revenue from consumption declines and tax evasion through Internet, black market and Native American tribal stores, as well as hinder anti-smoking efforts by driving sales to retailers not monitored by tobacco regulation and state or local health departments.

    Wilson Farm is encouraging others to voice their opinion by contacting Gov. David A. Paterson's office at (518) 474-8390, or through e-mail at www.ny.gov.

    NYACS also has voiced its opposition to the proposal by telling state legislators that if approved, it would amount to a "death warrant" to the state's c-store industry.

    "Because of the tax avoidance pandemic it is sure to unleash, voting for the new cigarette tax increase equates to a death warrant for mom-and-pop convenience stores," NYACS president James Calvin said in a note that was included with a mock "death warrant" certificate, which was distributed to each state legislator.

    The note continued: "Please don't sign it. Please don't do this to these small business families who have never asked the state of New York for anything other than the chance to compete fairly for retail trade. Please don’t do this to these working families that toil seven days a week striving to serve their customers, pay their bills, provide employment, collect and remit taxes to the state, comply with a litany of state and local regulations, and earn a living."

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