BOSTON (WWLP) – The Commission on Illegal Tobacco released its annual report on illegal tobacco distribution in the state and shows a large jump in seizures in Fiscal Year 2022.

Former Governor Charlie Baker signed “An Act Modernizing Tobacco Control” into law in November 2019, which changed several laws governing tobacco products in the state. Included in the law is a ban on retail sales of flavored tobacco products and a 75% excise tax on wholesale prices of electronic nicotine devices (ENDS), also know as vapes. The law went into full effect on June 1, 2020.

Since 2021, the task force tracks and reports the seizure of tobacco products. So far, there are only two annual reports of seizures but comparing the two, there has been a large increase in tobacco seizures from Fiscal Year 2021 to Fiscal Year 2022.

The following data are the amount of seizures by State Police and the Department of Revenue in the last two years:

  • Cigarettes (packs)
    • Fiscal Year 2021: 5,377
    • Fiscal Year 2022: 18,483
  • Smokeless Tobacco (tins/cans/bags)
    • Fiscal Year 2021: 5,121
    • Fiscal Year 2022: 49,534
  • Cigars
    • Fiscal Year 2021: 9,364
    • Fiscal Year 2022: 372,306
  • Smoking Tobacco (bags)
    • Fiscal Year 2021: 98
    • Fiscal Year 2022: 5,253
  • Vapes
    • Fiscal Year 2021: 106,775
    • Fiscal Year 2022: 71,746

The task force found a disproportionate amount of smuggling attempts involving smokeless tobacco, cigars, and smoking tobacco in the state. The task forces explain the cause of smuggling is from the state’s high tax rate compared to other states.

The report also mentions that although menthol cigarettes can not be sold in Massachusetts, nearby states like New Hampshire and Rhode Island have reported an increase in tobacco revenue following the law going into effect in 2020.

The Commission was created in 2016 to “coordinate efforts to combat contraband tobacco distribution, including efforts to foster compliance with the law and conduct targeted investigations and enforcement actions against violators.”