TULSA, OK - Cigarette sales at Oklahoma tribal shops are declining and have reached a 10-year low, Tulsa World reports.
Whereas in 2009, tribal smoke shops controlled roughly 50% of the state€™s retail cigarette market, in 2010 and 2011, that figure had dropped to 33% and is on pace to fall to less than 32% this year, according to state records.
The decline has been attributed to sales at border stores as well as a change in state law that took effect January 1, 2010, which increased the amount of stamps sold by non-compacting tribal smoke shops from 78 cents per pack to $1.03 per pack €" the same rate charged by non-tribal retail stores.
Additionally, State Tax Commission spokesperson Paula Ross said many tribal tobacco compacts expired in July 2008 and were replaced with language that affects border store sales. As a result, sales at tribal border stores dropped 82% from 2008 through 2010.
Border tribal stores sell cigarettes with either 6-cent or 25-cent tax stamps, allowing them to compete with border states with lower tobacco taxes.
Despite the reported sales decline, a QuikTrip spokesperson expressed doubt that non-tribal stores now control more than two-thirds of Oklahoma€™s cigarette sales €" at least in northeast Oklahoma.
"It's certainly not reflected in QuikTrip sales," said company spokesperson Mike Thornbrugh, conceding any shift in market share was due to the 6-cent tax stamp no longer "being abused."
A Muskogee Creek Nation smoke shop owner said his business has declined because the tribe lacks a compact with the state. As a result, Creek Nation smoke shops must sell cigarettes bearing a $1.03 tax stamp.
"All we're doing is giving the illusion that we are a smoke shop," said the tribal tobacco store owner.