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Division of Taxation

Cigarette Tax Act

The New Jersey Cigarette Tax Act provides for the licensure of various levels of the cigarette industry - from retailers to manufacturers - and regulates the sale, storage, use, and transportation of cigarettes (stamped and unstamped) within the state. Anyone who violates this act is subject to criminal prosecution.

New Jersey Office of Criminal Investigation Specail Agent Seal
How the Act is Enforced
Since 1973, the Office of Criminal Investigation enforces the Cigarette Tax Act laws through our municipal and Superior courts. These enforcement activities “Protect the Revenue” of the State and the programs those revenues fund.

The Office of Criminal Investigation:

  • Examines evidence of counterfeit tax stamps and counterfeit cigarettes;
  • Investigates violations of the Cigarette Tax Act and other criminal violations of the laws administered by the Division of Taxation;
  • Files charges in the court of jurisdiction;
  • Seizes contraband, vehicles, vessels, devices, paraphernalia, and monies connected to illegal activity;
  • Acts as a go-between for other law enforcement agencies and the cigarette/tobacco industry.
How the Cigarette Tax Act Affects You
In New Jersey, it is illegal to sell, buy, or transport cigarettes that do not have the New Jersey Tax Stamp. This includes:

  • Unstamped cigarettes;
  • Cigarettes that have stamps from other states; and
  • Counterfeit New Jersey-stamped cigarettes.
Unlawful Sales
  • Selling cigarettes without a license.
  • Selling untaxed cigarettes.
  • Selling, or offering for sale, individual “loose” cigarettes.
Unlawful Possession
It is illegal to buy or possess cigarettes that do not have a New Jersey Tax Stamp. This includes cigarettes you purchase:
  • Online or by phone from a Native American Reservation;
  • Online of by phone from sources outside the United States; or
  • In another state that you bring back to New Jersey.
Unlawful Transportation
The transportation of untaxed cigarettes in or through New Jersey requires specific licenses, actions, and documents which provide deliverer and receiver:
  • Information;
  • A full inventory; and
  • Verification of who will assume the cigarette tax liability either in New Jersey or another state.
Counterfeit Stamps Are Illegal
Acts subject to prosecution include:
  • Forging tax stamps;
  • Manufacturing and/or selling counterfeit tax stamps.
  • Possessing counterfeit tax stamps.
Counterfeit-Manufactured Cigarettes
It is unlawful to manufacture cigarettes that appear as legitimate well-known brands or to appear generic in nature. This includes:
  • Importing, selling, transporting, or possessing counterfeit-manufactured cigarettes; and
  • Violations of the New Jersey Trademark Counterfeiting Act.
What Items can the Division Seize for Violating the Cigarette Tax Act?
  • Untaxed cigarettes, U.S. tax-exempt or duty-free, and counterfeit-manufactured cigarettes;
  • Illegally imported cigarettes from other countries;
  • Cigarette vending machines that are not properly licensed or that contain untaxed cigarettes, or counterfeit-manufactured cigarettes;
  • Any vehicle, vessel, device, or paraphernalia used in the unlawful transportation of contraband cigarettes or used in the manufacture of counterfeit tax stamps;
  • Any monies that are proceeds of a crime involving the sale, possession, or transportation of contraband or counterfeit-manufactured cigarettes.
  • Illegally imported cigarettes from other countries;
Sales to Minors
It is illegal to sell cigarettes or any other tobacco products to anyone under the age of 21 (effective November 1, 2017). Violations should be reported to the local or regional Board of Health.
Roll-Your-Own Cigarette Machines (RYO)
Any device used to make commercial quality cigarettes is considered a roll-your-own cigarette machine. These machines are prohibited by the Federal government unless the owner:
  • Registers with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF);
  • Becomes a licensed New Jersey cigarette manufacturer; and
  • Follows the appropriate State and federal tax laws.

Last Updated: Friday, 10/13/23