Red Apple Supports NYACS Effort

Joins opposition to new cigarette taxes until state enforces Indian collections

NEW YORK -- John A. Catsimatidis, the chairman of the Red Apple Group and the owner of more than 200 Kwik Fill, Red Apple and Country Fair convenience stores in upstate New York and 45 Gristede's supermarkets in New York City, said he is joining with the New York Association of Convenience Stores (NYACS) and other small businesses of New York in a united front against any additional state cigarette tax increases until the state enforces the law and collects taxes from American Indian reservation retailers on cigarette sales to non-Indians.

The U.S. Supreme [image-nocss] Court, in a 9 to 0 ruling of more than 10 years ago, upheld the legality of taxing the reservations' sales of cigarettes to non-Indian buyers.

Catsimatidis, who has spoken out on this issue before, points out that the New York State Senate and Assembly passed legislation that American Indians selling cigarettes to non-Indians in New York state must pay the tax. He said, There can be no further delay in the implementation of this law, and certainly not until March 2007 which the new State budget suggests. Enforcement of gasoline and cigarette taxes on sales of these products at reservations would generate more $400 million a year in revenue and bring business back to legitimate retailers.

He added, When cigarettes are selling as low as $20 a carton on the reservations and more than $48 and up per carton at off-reservation retailers, there is no doubt where consumers are going to purchase their cigarettes, thus depriving the state of revenue and hurting legitimate retailers. A cigarette tax increase at this time would further the already wide disparity between tobacco prices at reservation stores and other New York state retail outlets. A tax increase would hurt beleaguered storeowners who are already reeling from the effects of previous increases and would, at the same time, generate more smuggling and black market activity.

Catsimatidis concluded, Enough is enough. It is time to show respect for the law by the simple act of enforcing the law. The excuse that enforcement of the law by Governor's office will result in violence is pure nonsense and sends the wrong message to law abiding New Yorkers.