Panel cites unjust sales at some Cherokee smoke shops

Tulsa, Oklahoma (AP) 4-08

An arbitration panel says some Cherokee Nation smoke shops breached an agreement with the state by selling low-tax cigarettes.

Under the agreement, some low-tax cigarette sales are allowed in tribal stores along the Oklahoma border to compete with stores in nearby states. Allegations arose that smoke shops outside these border areas were engaging in these sales.

The arbitration panel found some Cherokee Nation smoke shops unjustly sell low-tax cigarettes across the state causing the state to lose tax money.

Cherokee Nation Attorney General Diane Hammons said the state and tribe need to arrive at a negotiated agreement that is fair to everyone.

The low-tax cigarettes undercut nontribal stores by $3 to $4 a carton.

Oklahoma has estimated that it is losing about $4 million a month in tax collections because of excessive sales of low-tax cigarettes.