Our columnist’s last drug deal

Our columnist’s last drug deal
Community Newspaper Group / Joe Anuta

The days of my lunch break drug deal may now be over.

The drug I’m talking about, of course, is tobacco, and the deal is $7 a pack in a city where 20 smokes can cost you up to $13. That’s right — I have a cigarette guy in Downtown, and he was arrested last Wednesday for selling untaxed cigarettes and faces up to four years in jail.

But before you go all patriot on me or accuse me of being a tea-bagger, I want to explain why this is a deal I couldn’t refuse, despite my enormous paycheck at The Brooklyn Paper.

First, without using the tired excuse that “everybody’s doing it,” I’ll say that seriously, everybody is doing it. If you’re one of us smokers — 15 percent of adults in the city — who don’t have an illegal cancer stick dealer, you’re paying too much. Hell, when I lived in Washington State, I was complaining when they were $5 a pack.

Second, it’s an easy — and even thrilling — process. You walk in with your buddy who “knows a guy,” all shifty eyed and nervous, and say, “Hey, can I get a pack of Parliaments [or Camels, or Newports, or Marlboros] please?” and then the guy behind the counter looks around all shifty eyed and says, “How much do you normally pay?” and you say, “Um, $7?” and he nods, and ducks down behind the counter for a secret carton.

Once he sells you that pack, the relationship is set in stone. You never rat out your cig guy for not paying taxes because you need your bargain fix.

That said, I’m not trying to educate our dear readers on how to engage in illegal activity; it’s simply a fact of life for smokers — and the rest of you probably don’t even know it’s as common as breathing tar-filled air.

So naturally, being an addict myself, I was disheartened and even dismayed to confirm the arrest at the Tobacco Shop near Lawrence and Willoughby streets, right by my office at the Metrotech Center. Then again, when I sent an intern into Downtown to see if he could get another $12.50 pack for a smooth $7 on Thursday, he succeeded — I shouldn’t be telling you this, but the same shop was up to its old tricks.

And so was I. Did I mention that cigarettes are expensive?