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Interstate Cigarette Bootlegging: Extent, Revenue Losses, and Effects of Government Intervention


  • Marie C. Thursby
  • Jerry G. Thursby


In this paper, we develop and estimate a model of commercial smuggling in which some, but not all, firms smuggle a portion of the cigarettes they sell. The model is used to examine the effects on interstate cigarette smuggling of the Contraband Cigarette Act and a change in the federal excise tax. We find that both policies have unintentional effects. While the Contraband Cigarette Act was imposed to reduce interstate smuggling, we find it had the opposite effect. In contrast, an increase in the federal tax is not intended to affect smuggling, but we find it increases the portion of cigarette sales that is commercially smuggled.

Suggested Citation

  • Marie C. Thursby & Jerry G. Thursby, 1994. "Interstate Cigarette Bootlegging: Extent, Revenue Losses, and Effects of Government Intervention," NBER Working Papers 4763, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:4763
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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Holtz-Eakin, Douglas & Newey, Whitney & Rosen, Harvey S, 1989. "The Revenues-Expenditures Nexus: Evidence from Local Government Data," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 30(2), pages 415-429, May.
    2. Lewit, Eugene M. & Coate, Douglas, 1982. "The potential for using excise taxes to reduce smoking," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 1(2), pages 121-145, August.
    3. Badi H. Baltagi & Rajeev K. Goel, 1987. "Quasi-Experimental Price Elasticities of Cigarette Demand and the Bootlegging Effect," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 69(4), pages 750-754.
    4. Baltagi, Badi H & Levin, Dan, 1986. "Estimating Dynamic Demand for Cigarettes Using Panel Data: The Effects of Bootlegging, Taxation and Advertising Reconsidered," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 68(1), pages 148-155, February.
    5. Breusch, T S & Pagan, A R, 1979. "A Simple Test for Heteroscedasticity and Random Coefficient Variation," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 47(5), pages 1287-1294, September.
    6. Marie Thursby & Richard Jensen & Jerry Thursby, 1991. "Smuggling, Camouflaging, and Market Structure," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 106(3), pages 789-814.
    7. Wasserman, Jeffrey & Manning, Willard G. & Newhouse, Joseph P. & Winkler, John D., 1991. "The effects of excise taxes and regulations on cigarette smoking," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 10(1), pages 43-64, May.
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    Cited by:

    1. Lovenheim, Michael F., 2008. "How Far to the Border?: The Extent and Impact of Cross-Border Casual Cigarette Smuggling," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 61(1), pages 7-33, March.
    2. Devereux, M.P. & Lockwood, B. & Redoano, M., 2007. "Horizontal and vertical indirect tax competition: Theory and some evidence from the USA," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 91(3-4), pages 451-479, April.
    3. Gruber, Jonathan & Sen, Anindya & Stabile, Mark, 2003. "Estimating price elasticities when there is smuggling: the sensitivity of smoking to price in Canada," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 22(5), pages 821-842, September.
    4. Leonzio Rizzo & Alejandro Esteller - Moré, 2011. "US Excise Tax Horizontal Interdependence: Yardstick vs. Tax Competition," Working Papers 201116, University of Ferrara, Department of Economics.
    5. Leonzio Rizzo, 2008. "Local government responsiveness to federal transfers: theory and evidence," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 15(3), pages 316-337, June.
    6. Austan Goolsbee & Michael F. Lovenheim & Joel Slemrod, 2010. "Playing with Fire: Cigarettes, Taxes, and Competition from the Internet," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 2(1), pages 131-154, February.
    7. Chiou, Lesley & Muehlegger, Erich, 2008. "Crossing the Line: The Effect of Cross Border Cigarette Sales on State Excise Tax Revenues," Working Paper Series rwp08-012, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
    8. Rizzo, Leonzio, 2005. "Interaction between Vertical and Horizontal tax Competition: Theory and Evidence," MPRA Paper 5334, University Library of Munich, Germany.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • H26 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Tax Evasion and Avoidance
    • K42 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - Illegal Behavior and the Enforcement of Law


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