Cigarettes and Mr. Garner

One word of caution.  If you are going to protest and riot over something, please take the time to research what is really going on.  Most situations are not an easy black and white issue (sorry for the pun – but it fits).

This blog isn’t about who is right and wrong on the Eric Garner case.  It is about what lead up to it.

I’m not a smoker and I don’t live in New York City.  When I first heard about this, I thought “what? why are the cops beating up on a guy for selling single cigarettes?”  So as a righteous blogger, I did some research.

Here’s the deal.  In New York City, smoking enthusiasts pay $4.25 tax plus $1.60 city tax on a SINGLE PACK OF CIGARETTES!!!!  That makes a pack cost between $13 and $15!  Again, I’m not pro smoking.  I don’t like smoking.  I hate second hand smoke.  But that is outrageous!

Here is a tidbit from one blog:

“Thanks to New York’s laughably high cigarette taxes ($4.35 state plus another $1.60 in the city) and higher prices generally, a pack of smokes in New York City costs $14 or more. That creates a powerful incentive to smuggle smokes in from states such as Virginia, where you can buy a pack for a third of that price. Fill a Ford Econoline van with a few hundred cartons and you can make a nice five-figure profit in a weekend. Some people do.

The robust cigarette smuggling irritates officials in New York, because they miss out on a lot of tax revenue. The trade irritates officials in Virginia for the same reason, because smugglers buy wholesale to avoid the retail sales tax.”


Wow, I had no idea.  I may take that up as a weekend activity myself.

So, what I understand is: Mr. Garner took up this trade for some illegal funds.  The business owners along there complained heavily to the city because Mr. Garner was hurting their sales and profits.  The city was upset because they are losing out on tax revenue.  Mr. Garner had 30 some other citations and was refusing to leave or stop this high rolling business.

The cops show up and we all know what happened next.  This is a horrible way for a person to die.  It is horrible for a country to agonize over it.  But as I said in an earlier blog – you can’t tax everything you don’t like just because it is a social sin and hope to build new bridges with it. (

If our government is going to fix outrageous taxes on anything, be prepared for the social spill over (i.e. prohibition).  There are many many different angles to look at the tragedy of Mr. Garner.  Race is only one of them.



About Brian Fulmer

Brian is the owner of Crossroads Property Management Inc. ( He writes six blogs and has written two books. He also works with various missions around the world. His first love is Guatemala.
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