Tougher enforcement is reducing cigarette tax evasion, the state Board of Equalization says in a new report.
The report estimates that cigarette tax evasion declined from $276 million in the 2005-06 fiscal year to $214 million in 2012-13 and from 18 percent of cigarette sales to 16 percent.
Board officials credited a joint federal-state enforcement program named "Operation Big Pinch" for the decline. It refers to the nine illegal operators who were "pinched" in 2012 and 2013.
PHOTO: Two packs of cigarettes with California tax stamps at the State of California Board of Equalization office in Sacramento on Tuesday July 18, 2006. The Sacramento Bee/ Randall Benton