It's time for New York leaders to wake up and listen to state law enforcement professionals: The adult smoking rate is going up because of the growing crime of cigarette smuggling in the Empire State, not because of budget cuts to anti-smoking programs ["Survey: Smoking on rise in NYC," News, Sept. 16].

Each year investigative experts estimate that 50 percent to 60 percent of cigarettes smoked in New York City are trafficked via the black market. Smokers are spending less for contraband cigarettes than ever before, clearly going out of their way to avoid paying for the most expensive packs in America and making it easier to light up.

We need tougher penalties and more resources for cops to fight smuggling. New York leaders should listen to their own tax investigation division, which has some excellent enforcement ideas and is a leader in the fight against trafficking of contraband cigarettes along Interstate 95, the new "tobacco road."

Richard Marianos, Bristow, Virginia

Editor's note: The writer is a retired assistant director of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

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