Sunday, December 21, 2008
Our Tobacco Businesses Will Not Just Continue to Survive, They Will Grow
There are a lot of misconceptions about what the State can and cannot do with regards to Native retatil of any products including tobacco. The State has no more authority to tax the sales of tobacco on our lands today than it had when we started. What the State is hoping to do is prevent product from getting to us without their tax already applied. By and large most cigarettes sold by Native retailers have the Federal excise tax paid. The product comes to the wholesalers with the tax applied or in the case of imported product it is paid when clearing customs. The bottom line for the State is that they can only control their State licensed wholesalers and even these entities that they control must have their regulations legally and evenly applied with particular scrutiny paid to the interstate regulations. Any commerce conducted that involves products coming or going from our communities is interstate commerce. New York State does not have the authority to regulate interstate commerce or commerce with "Indians" specifically. This is is not called out in some overly debated treaty interpretation. It is mandated in the US Constitution. The signifiacance of having the State's wings clipped by the Constitution on both Native commerce and interstate commerce is that any "Indian" specific regulatory scheme must also abide by interstate commerce regulations. The State can do nothing about our manufacturing or our wholesale and distribution without violating Federal law and well established standards for interstate commerce. I do believe it is illegal for New York State to block non-native manufacturers, including Big Tobacco, from doing business with us and I also believe Philip Morris and the others are illegally discriminating against Native retailers by denying us product. However, I strongly believe we should bouycot these manufacturers and steal as much market share from them as we can and we should likewise avoid purchasing from the State licensed wholesalers to stay as far from the State's reach as possible. The tobacco business was ours first and it will be ours last. We will find ways to capitalize on the this industry that was hijacked from us and continue to develop products and markets that will susutain us. As we continue to develop in this business we will find more ways to keep more of the revenue from our manufacturing and sales. I look to the day when neither the State nor the Feds collect a cent of tax revenue from our commerce.