Judge to Paterson: Butt Out!

After a Buffalo judge ruled Monday in favor of Gov. Paterson’s decision to tax cigarettes on Indian reservations, officials expected to wake up this morning having snuffed out all in-state options for smokers seeking a cheap pack. 

But the Thruway may again be filled with cigarette-seeking New Yorkers! On Tuesday U.S. District Court Judge Richard Arcara granted the Seneca and Cayuga tribes an eleventh-hour ruling that allows them to purchase cartons from wholesale suppliers without paying the newly enforced tax, says a story in The New York Times. The reprieve will last for at least two weeks, when both sides will attend a hearing.

The two Indian nations claimed the tax infringed upon their legally bestowed sovereignty and view this albeit temporary reversal as a victory, says Barry E. Snyder, president of the Seneca Nation. He called Paterson’s effort to raise funds through high-priced cigarettes an “ill-conceived attempt by New York State to use the Seneca Nation and other Indian nations located within its boundaries as piggy banks to balance the state budget.”

There’s no guarantee the Seneca and Cayuga can keep selling their inoffensively priced cigarettes for more than two weeks, so plan accordingly. Move your Labor Day destination upstate, and leave some room in the trunk.