Florida - campaign to encourage citizens to report illegal tobacco sales..

December 20, 2009 - TALLAHASSEE - The state government's Department of Business and Professional Regulation’s (DBPR) Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco (ABT) launched the “PUFS” campaign to encourage citizens to report illegal tobacco sales.

ABT wants consumers to help “burn” individuals and businesses who are not paying taxes and taking money away from Florida’s economy. Citizens should report cigarettes without the required stamp by calling toll-free 1-866-540-PUFS (7837). Callers can remain anonymous and are eligible to receive a cash reward.

Florida Statute, Chapter 210, requires that a stamp be placed on all cigarettes sold in Florida as evidence that the excise tax and surcharge has been paid. The Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco has provided this toll-free number for reporting violations. Upon a determination that a violation has occurred, the informant will be paid a reward of up to 50 percent of the fine levied against the individual selling the unstamped cigarettes.

In addition to the consumer campaign, each tobacco retail dealer must conspicuously display a notice in every location where cigarettes are sold. This notice can be obtained by contacting the division at any location throughout Florida or by downloading it. ABT has already disseminated more than 5,000 of these notices to retailers.

The mission of ABT is to keep alcohol and tobacco out of the hands of underage persons, to ensure that licensed establishments are in compliance with the laws and rules regulating the industry in Florida, and to collect taxes and fees related to these industries.

The DBPR's mission is to license efficiently and regulate fairly. DBPR licenses nearly one million businesses and professionals ranging from real estate agents, veterinarians, and accountants to contractors and cosmetologists. For more information, please visit MyFloridaLicense.com.

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Reference: Department of Business and Professional Regulation Wants Citizens to “Burn” Illegal Tobacco Sales, WCTC.TV (news@wctv.tv), 12/16/2009.