According to figures released by an official with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, a cigarette smuggler can make up to $500,000 from from smuggling cigarettes between states on the East Coast.
The smuggler legitimately buys 200 cases of cigarettes in southern states such as North Carolina or South Carolina. Then, the smuggler would then drive up the coast to New York City, where the tax on tobacco is $4.35.
56.9 percent of the cigarettes smoked in NYC in 2012 were smuggled though the black market.
Source: Mark Niquette and Esme E. Deprez, “Cigarette Smuggling Prompts Crackdown by States Losing Billions,” Bloomberg Businessweek, March 24, 2014.