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HB 853 Cigarette laws; administration and enforcement, etc.
SUMMARY AS PASSED: (all summaries)
Administration and enforcement of cigarette laws. Modifies several provisions relating to the administration and enforcement of Virginia's cigarette laws by providing that (i) violations of cigarette tax laws may be investigated by a multijurisdiction grand jury; (ii) counterfeit or unstamped cigarettes or cigarettes in the possession of an unauthorized holder may be assigned by court order for use by a law-enforcement undercover operation; (iii) a person convicted of possessing unstamped cigarettes would be ineligible to be an authorized holder of cigarettes; (iv) members of federal, state, and local law enforcement would be exempt from cigarette taxes when the cigarettes are used in the performance of investigatory duties; (v) manufacturers and distributors of cigarettes would be allowed to ship or deliver unstamped cigarettes to a law-enforcement agency for use in the performance of its duties; and (vi) where a sealed pack is labeled as containing cigarettes, such labeling would constitute prima facie evidence that the pack is a pack of cigarettes. The bill also substantially increases the civil penalties for possession with intent to distribute tax-paid contraband cigarettes by a person other than an authorized holder. Penalties are graduated based on the number of offenses and the amount that is currently the maximum fine is the minimum fine under the bill.