Contraband Cigarette Trafficking Act

Congress enacted the Contraband Cigarette Trafficking Act (CCTA) in 1978 to prevent criminal organizations from trafficking cigarettes and selling them on the black market to generate  profits to fund criminal and terrorist activities. It was amended in 2006 with the re-authorization of the Patriot Act to address criminals who avoided paying tobacco sales taxes and illegally profiting from the interstate trafficking, possession and sale of non-state cigarettes and smokeless tobacco. 


ATF serves as the federal agency responsible for enforcing CCTA. The bureau works with interagency partners to make sure that authentic tobacco sales revenues are distributed to the correct federal and state agencies. In addition, we educate regulated communities and provide compliance assistance services across the country. 

CCTA makes it a federal crime to ship, transport, receive, possess, sell, distribute or purchase more than 10,000 cigarettes without tax stamps in the states which require tax stamps or 500 units of smokeless tobacco without proper documentation of state tax payments or in violation of state regulatory laws. 

CCTA also identifies and investigates counterfeit cigarette sellers and prosecutes them for selling contraband tobacco products to unsuspecting consumers. 

The CCTA requires all tobacco distributors to keep and maintain tobacco records and it authorizes ATF to inspect distributor inventories.  

Tribal Consultation

As part of ATF’s ongoing tobacco enforcement responsibilities, the agency proposed amendments to the CCTA as part of the Patriot Act Reauthorization in 2015. This rulemaking process included consulting with Tribal officials and businesses that operate on Tribal land who distribute cigarettes and/or smokeless tobacco.


Last Reviewed September 22, 2022