Tax Hike Prompts Cigarette Surveillance on State Borders

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- The Tennessee Department of Revenue says it will be conducting surveillance of tobacco retailers just over the state line.

Commissioner Reagan Farr says he wants Tennesseans to know cigarettes purchased out-of-state may be considered contraband.

Possessing more than 20 packs -- or two cartons -- of cigarettes not bearing Tennessee revenue stamps is a misdemeanor. Possession of more than 25 cartons of untaxed cigarettes is a felony.

Tennessee's cigarette tax increased from 20 cents per pack to 62 cents per pack in July. The department says the tax hike may be leading to large sales in neighboring states with lower taxes.