I do not believe it is illegal to purchase tobacco products online. The question is whether or not it is illegal to avoid your state taxes. When it comes to tobacco products there are federal and state laws involved. Many states have started increasing the taxes on tobacco products to help people quit smoking. This was supposed to help people who do not have money to quit. The drugs in tobacco do not allow this to happen easily. So people being the bargain hunters they are look for alternative sources.
Now we come to the on-line retailers of tobacco products. They can supply you with a cheap source, usually by buying in quantity or having contracts with other suppliers. Most e-tailers only charge taxes in the state they operate in. They will happily take your order and ship it to you. The problem is, are they following the law themselves. Tobacco products are extremely regulated at both federal and state levels. Retailers have to account for all sales. They also have to comply with their state and federal regulations.
Like I said before the main goal of increased tobacco tax is to reduce the number of users. The main side effect has been an increased tax revenue for state governments. This has amounted to millions in increased revenue. The local residents of the state can't or don't want to pay the extra so they find another source. Woo-hoo, they discover the Internet. They buy their products at a cheap price and are happy. State officials caught on to what was happening. In Virginia the attorney generals office took two online marketeers to court.The online retailers not wanting to pay this millions themselves turned the records over. After looking at all of their records they discovered that sales had cost 46 other states over $2 million.
They sent letters to all states affected. More than a few of the states are pursuing their own legal course of action. Now residents of these states a getting letters demanding payment of taxes. Michigan has sent out more than 1500 letters. One lady, who was buying them for her boyfriend with Alzheimer's, is ordered to pay almost $5,ooo in sales and tobacco taxes. What the legal outcome of all this is hard to say. It seems as if they are trying to balance the books with this millions of lost revenue from people they are trying to help quit. Maybe what they should be doing is offering the people they contact two options. The first is pay the tax or the second is to offer them cessation programs so they can quit. If they opt for the second and are successful, the state and federal governments would save thousands over the life of the individuals in medical costs alone.
The next problem is whether or not it falls on the Internet retailer about these taxes. If they offer no disclosure to their customers then they should be liable to the government for payment of taxes. While ignorance of the law is no excuse, it is very difficult to navigate laws and regulations.If these laws a not adhered to then both seller and buyer have violated. If all sales and use taxes are paid at the beginning and all tobacco transport regulations are followed then there should be no problems.