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News stories tagged with "tobacco"

St. Lawrence County's strict new smoking ban takes effect Saturday.
St. Lawrence County's strict new smoking ban takes effect Saturday.

Smoke 'em if you got 'em, St. Lawrence County

Today is the last day tobacco use is permitted on St. Lawrence County property. A ban takes effect Saturday that outlaws smoking, chewing, and other tobacco uses on property owned or leased by the county.  Go to full article
Paul Smiths College will ban all tobacco products, including chew and cigarettes, by August 2014.  (Photo: Wikipedia)
Paul Smiths College will ban all tobacco products, including chew and cigarettes, by August 2014. (Photo: Wikipedia)

Tobacco ban at Paul Smiths College sparks debate

Paul Smiths College in the Adirondacks announced earlier this month that it plans to phase out the use of all tobacco products on its campus and on its affiliated properties.

That will include visitors to the nearby the Paul Smiths VIC, with its ski and hiking trails.

The change will happen over the next two years, with all tobacco products banned by August 2014.

Tobacco is a known carcinogen that kills nearly half a million Americans every year.  Go to full article
The governor raises additional tobacco taxes by $18 million…and yet he cuts the program that helps smokers to quit.

Cuomo budget would raise taxes on tobacco, cut smoking cessation program

Governor Andrew Cuomo, in his budget plan, is increasing some taxes on tobacco, while cutting the state's smoking cessation program. Cuomo closes what he calls some tax loopholes for cigars and loose tobacco that will net $18 million in revenue for the state. At the same time, he's reducing New York's anti smoking campaign by $5 million. From Albany, Karen DeWitt reports.  Go to full article
Robert Odawi Porter at his desk.
Robert Odawi Porter at his desk.

Seneca president redefining native leadership

This week, we're going to take a look around Indian Country in New York. Taxing native smoke shops have grabbed headlines lately. But we're going to look deeper at some of the political, economic, and social trends shaping New York's native tribes and nations.

Today, the Seneca Nation, south of Buffalo. Casinos and tobacco sales have turned it from an empoverished territory to one of the top ten employer in western New York.

The Nation's new president, Robert Odawi Porter, has taken a lead role in negotiating native issues with the Cuomo Administration.

Porter wants the Senecas to go beyond smoke shops and slot machines. He's a Harvard-educated lawyer and academic. And he wants to recast one of the darkest moments of the Seneca people into an economic boon. David Sommerstein has this profile.  Go to full article

Tribes on cigarette tax

Indian tribes are banding together to fight New York's attempt to collect taxes on tobacco sold at native-owned stores. Billed as an historic gathering of the six nations that make up the Iroquois Confederacy, chiefs from the Mohawk, Oneida, Seneca, Onondaga, Cayuga, and Tuscarora Nations met outside Rochester today.

In a joint statement, they called New York "a foreign nation". And they called the Paterson Administration's move to collect cigarette taxes on reservations "an effort to erode our sovereignty."

The meeting comes a day after the Seneca Nation sued New York in U.S. District Court to block the tax collection.

Paterson says the taxes would bring hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue to the cash-strapped state. The tax collection is scheduled to begin on September 1st.

The last time New York tried to collect the tobacco taxes on native lands, members of the Seneca Nation burned tires on the New York State Thruway, shutting down New York's main east-west highway.  Go to full article
Mike Hennessey (D-Sherill)
Mike Hennessey (D-Sherill)

Oneida Democrat seeks to unseat Griffo

A three-term Oneida County legislator wants to unseat Republican State Senator Joe Griffo. Democrat Mike Hennessey lives in the city of Sherill, which has been embroiled in land claim and cigarette tax issues with the Oneida Indian Nation. So it's no surprise Hennessey wants New York to collect taxes on tobacco sold at native-owned stores as a way to close the state deficit. He also wants to eliminate unfunded state mandates, reform state ethics codes, and create jobs. Hennessey is a financial advisor and former small business owner. He told David Sommerstein a visit to a local soup kitchen for veterans compelled him to run for State Senate.  Go to full article

Paterson wades into tobacco tax controversy

Facing a more than $7 billion deficit, Governor Paterson is plumbing even long-shot revenue sources to make up the spending gap - things like the so-called "obesity tax" on soft drinks. Another is collecting tobacco taxes from the state's Indian Nations. Initial reaction from tribal chiefs suggests Albany shouldn't expect the money anytime soon. As David Sommerstein reports, Paterson has been reluctant to tread where past Governors have failed.  Go to full article
A patron takes a hit from her hookah.
A patron takes a hit from her hookah.

Hookah puffing along in Potsdam

Hookah bars, or hookah lounges, are places where people go to smoke shisha (non-tobacco herbs). They're usually associated with the Middle East, but they're on a run in this country. According to a website that monitors this kind of thing, there are more than 500 hookah bars in the United States, with 5 new ones opening every month. The phenomenon's mostly been restricted to big cities. But a hookah bar opened this fall in one of the North Country's college towns, Potsdam. When many small businesses are falling victim to the recession, are people willing to ante up for a toke? Chelsea Ross went to find out.  Go to full article

Mohawks prefer diplomacy in tobacco tax fight

Last year, Governor Paterson signed into law a bill that would enforce collection of state tobacco taxes when non-natives buy cigarettes at native-owned stores. Albany estimates up to 400 million dollars a year in taxes are going uncollected. But like his three predecessors, Paterson's administration said last week it will not try to collect the taxes. Remember when the Seneca Nation burned tires on the Thruway when then-Governor George Pataki tried to collect them? The whole issue is knotted up in lawsuits. New York City is suing a Long Island tribe. Two counties are suing the Cayuga Nation. The rulings could set precedents in the now cloudy case of tobacco taxes and native tribes. Jim Ransom says there's an easy solution - sit down and talk. Ransom is chief of the St. Regis Mohawk tribe in Akwesasne. The Mohawks are at odds with New York State over three issues - the cigarette taxes, land claims in St. Lawrence and Franklin counties, and building a casino in the Catskills. Ransom says one agreement can resolve them all.  Go to full article

Mohawks: tobacco smuggling answers lie in cooperation

Last week, the Center for Public Integrity released an exhaustive investigation on the confluence of illegal tobacco, drugs, and organized crime on the Mohawk reservations on the St. Lawrence River. Yesterday we spoke with the report's author.

Today, the Mohawks' side of things. Chiefs of the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe near Massena say Canada and the United States are raising cigarette taxes without considering historic tribal rights to trade tobacco. Chief Jim Ransom says the author of the Center for Public Integrity report didn't even request an interview with tribal chiefs. The Mohawks have endured a reputation as smugglers even before tobacco companies worked with some natives to traffic untaxed cigarettes into Canada in the 1990s. This year's surprise hit film, Frozen River, has brought Akwesasne's reputation to the big screen and the nation. Chief Ransom told David Sommerstein he condemns the drug trafficking and crime that happens in Akwesasne. But he says the characterization ignores the history of oppression and environmental degradation brought on the Mohawks.  Go to full article

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