With cigarette tax revenues down, the city and state have to find their bucks somehow, and enforcing existing tax laws is certainly one way. So happy news for the city! Today a judge awarded New York City summary judgement against two tobacco wholesalers who have been selling unstamped smokes to the Poospatuck Indian reservation for years—cancer sticks which quickly made their way into the public's hands for a nice discount.

In today's ruling, the court held that the vast majority, if not all, of the unstamped cigarettes that distributors Gutlove & Shirvint, Inc., and Mauro Pennisi, Inc., sold to reservation retailers were then resold to the public, "and that any reasonable wholesaler would have been well aware of that fact." The ruling goes on to say that it was “uncontroverted that large quantities of Gutlove and Pennisi cigarettes were trafficked into New York City" and that the wholesalers "have undoubtedly been on notice of that fact, at least since the time the City brought this action in 2006."

The two wholesalers could now face up to $15 million in penalties for violating the federal Contraband Cigarette Trafficking Act. And the city is happy! "We applaud today’s judgment. Untaxed cigarettes have numerous consequences; they undermine the public health benefit of increased taxes on cigarettes," Health Commissioner Thomas Farley said in a statement.

"Taxing tobacco is one of the most effective strategies to reduce tobacco use," Farley went on to say, "especially among young people. As a result of taxes, smokers quit and youth do not start smoking, thereby preventing illness, suffering, and premature death." Those taxes, he also forgot to mention, are (or were until recently) a great way to fill in a budget. Addicted smokers gotta smoke!