For many years, cigarette bootlegging became one of the most profitable and low-risk underworld rackets around. It was often likened to what alcohol bootlegging had been for the underworld back in the 1920s.
This was a racket scheme that started way back in the 1960s in New York City and a few other northeastern states that had started taxing cigarette sales heavier. Under the guise of dissuading the public from the newly discovered unhealthy consumption of tobacco, certain states began to levy a heavy tax on retail cigarette sales.
It also became a good excuse as another major revenue-producing source for New York State. By heavily taxing the sale of tobacco, the state coffers swelled with many additional millions that they wouldn’t have otherwise seen.