Updated stamp seeks to thwart cigarette counterfeiting

SACRAMENTO - Cigarette packages will soon be outfitted with state-of-the-art tax stamps as officials work to reduce the trafficking of counterfeit cigarettes and related excise tax evasion in California.Officials with the California State Board of Equalization announced the enhanced security features, which include special inks and a counterfeit and tamper-resistant design. The newly-designed stamps will help simplify authentication and discourage tax stamp counterfeiting, officials said. Cigarette-related tax evasion costs California an estimated $182 million annually. The new tax stamps on cigarette packages are gold in appearance, with a color-shifting effect visible on the left edge and a unique serial number. Retailers and consumers can expect to see the new stamps in use by Jan. 1. Cigarette and tobacco taxes are "excise" taxes, or charges paid at the distribution level and often built into the retail price. Excise taxes paid on cigarettes are used to fund state services and programs including breast cancer research, early childhood education, health education and hospital services.

********** Published: December 30, 2010 - Volume 9 - Issue 37