Robert J. Bentley

The life-saving tax

Critics of Maryland's tobacco tax have long predicted that it would lead to unintended consequences, specifically massive smuggling as bootleggers trucked crates of contraband smokes, shortchanged the government and pocketed the difference. A news release this week from the Maryland U.S. Attorney's office suggests there's some truth to that: Two Maryland men were sentenced on Tuesday to prison in a massive cigarette smuggling conspiracy that evaded some $2.5 million in taxes.

The thing is, they were smuggling cigarettes from Maryland, not into it. Maryland's $2 a pack levy may be high compared to Virginia's absurd 30 cents, but the difference is still less than between...