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Senate Unanimously Approves Bill Banning Cigarette Shipments by Mail

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The U.S. Postal Service will no longer deliver cigarettes to consumers under a bill approved unanimously by the U.S. Senate last week, the Buffalo News reported March 12.

A version of the Prevent All Cigarette Trafficking (PACT) Act also was overwhelmingly approved by the House of Representatives; once the two measures are reconciled a final bill will be submitted to President Obama for his signature.

Backers of the legislation said that the intent of the ban was to prevent tax evasion and deliveries of cigarettes to underage youth. If it becomes law, the measure would spell the end of mail-order cigarette operations by the Seneca Nation and other Native American tribes that have shipped tax-free cigarettes by mail. Seventy percent of the cigarettes sold by the Seneca tribe of upstate New York are sent via mail, for example.

Private shipping companies like UPS and Federal Express already prohibit shipment of tobacco products to consumers. In addition to public-health groups, the tobacco industry has supported the ban.

The PACT Act also requires Internet sellers of tobacco products to collect taxes, register with state governments, and check the IDs of buyers.

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