Maryland Officials Call for Tougher Penalties for Cigarette Smuggling

Crime is "more lucrative than smuggling heroin"

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    Officials in Maryland are calling on the General Assembly to toughen laws against cigarette smuggling.

    The crime is more lucrative than selling heroin, and the penalties aren’t severe, Comptroller Peter Franchot said.

    Officials said they’ve intercepted more smuggled cigarettes in the past nine months than they did in the entire previous fiscal year.

    "Because it's lucrative and there's not a very high penalty, we're seeing more and more professional criminals," Franchot said.

    "When I say it's more lucrative than smuggling heroin, I mean it," he added. "Just think about buying a pack of cigarettes in North Carolina for $4 and being able to sell it in New York City for $14."

    Franchot wants the General Assembly to increase the penalties to provide a bigger deterrent.

    Legislation is working its way through Annapolis.