U.S. Senate Vote to Curb Internet Tobacco Sales Is Victory for Kids and Taxpayers

Statement of Matthew L. Myers, President, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids

Mar. 12 2010

Washington, D.C. — The U.S. Senate on Thursday unanimously approved S. 1147, the Prevent All Cigarette Trafficking (PACT) Act, legislation to curtail the growing sales of tax-evading, low-cost cigarettes and other tobacco products over the Internet and through the mail. The Senate's action is a milestone in the fight to keep kids from smoking and prevent tax evasion that costs state and federal taxpayers billions each year. We applaud Sen. Herb Kohl (D-WI) for his leadership and persistence in sponsoring this legislation and winning Senate approval.

The House of Representatives last year voted 397 to 11 to approve similar legislation, sponsored by Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY), and is expected to take up the Senate bill. We look forward to the House quickly approving the Senate bill and President Obama continuing his strong leadership on tobacco control by signing the PACT Act into law.

Internet sales of tobacco products are a serious and growing problem that keeps prices down and smoking levels up. Such sales make it easier and cheaper for kids to buy cigarettes, facilitate tax evasion and cost federal and state governments billions in revenue. Many vendors that sell cigarettes and smokeless tobacco products over the Internet or through other mail-order sales do not pay applicable tobacco taxes and do not have sufficient safeguards to prevent sales to children, such as effective policies to verify a purchaser's age.

The PACT Act will:

  • Require Internet sellers to pay all federal, state, local or Tribal tobacco taxes and affix tax stamps before delivery to any customer;
  • Mandate that the age and identification of purchasers be checked at purchase and at delivery;
  • Require Internet vendors to comply with state and local laws as if they were located in the same state as their customers;
  • Provide federal and state enforcement officials with new tools to block delivery of cigarettes and smokeless tobacco products that evade federal or state laws; and
  • Ban the delivery of tobacco products through the U.S. mail.

 

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