News Releases

News Release


Feb. 17, 2010 – Tobacco Hotline is New Way to Catch Tax Cheats


COLUMBUS, Ohio – Citizens who suspect retailers of selling untaxed tobacco products can help the state snuff out illegal activity by calling a new toll-free hotline: (877) SMOKE-80.

The Ohio Department of Taxation launched the new hotline in an effort to generate tips on the sale of untaxed tobacco products, an illegal practice that hurts law-abiding business owners.

“When merchants sell untaxed cigarettes, they are breaking the law and taking money out of the pockets of legitimate business owners who play by the rules,” said Bob Bray, the Ohio Department of Taxation’s chief enforcement officer.

Packs of cigarettes that are sold legitimately bear a tax stamp from the state as proof. Retailers who sell untaxed products face misdemeanor or felony charges, based on the quantities they hold. They also owe taxes and penalties on the products held without tax stamps, and these products are confiscated as evidence.

Retailer compliance with Ohio’s tobacco laws is monitored through periodic inspections conducted statewide by agents of the Ohio Department of Taxation’s Enforcement Division and by agents from the Excise and Motor Fuel Tax Division, in cooperation with local law enforcement authorities.

The Department of Taxation has stepped up its enforcement of untaxed tobacco products. Department investigations led to the seizures 180,795 untaxed tobacco products during fiscal year 2009, more than seven times the quantity seized the previous year.

The new hotline can also be reached by calling (877) 766-5380.

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News media with further questions should contact Mike McKinney at (614) 466-5461.