NY State - Seneca Indians - lobbying against the PACT act..

January 6, 2009 - The Seneca Nation (of Indians) is publicly lobbying against a proposed federal regulation that it fears would severely damage Indian-operated cigarette sales and manufacturing operations.

The federal Prevent All Cigarette Trafficking Act bill (PACT) prohibits the United States Postal Service from delivering tobacco products. UPS, FedEX and DHL have signed agreements with state attorneys general that they will not deliver tobacco products — but not the Postal Service - so far. (Protect Our Children - Make it illegal to use the U.S. Postal Service to deliver any form of tobacco product..)

U.S. PACT (PREVENT ALL CIGARETTE TRAFFICKING ACT OF 2009) - This legislation is extremely important, it will effectively end Internet and telephone tobacco sales by stopping shipments of cigarettes and smokeless tobacco through the U.S. Postal Service. FedEx, UPS, and DHL have already agreed not to mail tobacco. H.R. 1676, the Prevent All Cigarette Trafficking Act (the PACT Act) of 2009, was passed 397-11 by the House of Representatives on Thursday, 5/21/2009. On November 19, 2009 the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously approved this legislation. We expect the legislation to be approved by the full senate and signed into law early in 2010.

Billboards along the I-190 in downtown Buffalo, New York make pleas to Sens. Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand to vote against the PACT Act bill that the Seneca Nation and other Indian tribes feel will all but shut down mail-order cigarette sales. If enacted, the bill could see more than 1,000 people locally lose their jobs, the Senecas say.

Many feel the bill is being championed by major cigarette manufacturers as an attempt to shut down or severely limited Indian-operated cigarette businesses.

“We applaud the goal of halting rogue tobacco smuggling, but it’s wrong to wipe out legitimate jobs in the process,” said Barry Snyder, Seneca Nation president. “Tobacco trade is a key component of the Seneca Nation economy.”

Snyder said if the PACT legislation is approved, the Seneca Nation could lose as much as 65 percent of its import/export revenue from cigarette and tobacco sales. Proceeds from those sales help fund health and education programs for the Seneca Nation.

Snyder noted the Seneca Nation uses state-of-the-art stamping and enforcement measures that ensure compliance with a rigorous set of internal regulations. Among the regulations are: retailer authorization, minimum pricing standards and a ban on sales to minors. The Seneca Nation also works closely with Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms Enforcement on all matters related to cigarette sales.

Besides the billboards, the Seneca Nation’s Foreign Relations Committee has been working with lobbyists on rallying defeat for the PACT act.

“The PACT Act is being portrayed as a tool to fight cigarette smuggling,” Snyder said. “In reality, it will kill legitimate, treaty-sanctioned Native American commerce, causing significant economic harm.”

Indian reservations are the major source of untaxed cigarette black market for New York's booming tobacco black market, robbing the state of nearly one billion dollars annually in tax revenue. More than six billion untaxed cigarettes flowed through New York's ten reservations in 2007. If smoke shop owners only sold to members of their own tribes, as provided by law, every reservation resident-man, women, child-would have to smoke 44 cigarettes per hour. (Big Tobacco's New York Black Market by Marina Walker Guevara, Kate Willson, The Center for Public Integrity, 12/19/2008.)

Reference: Senecas fight tobacco sales bill by James Fink, Business First of Buffalo, 1/5/2010.

Some PACT related news briefs:
U.S. - Senate Judiciary Committee Approves PACT ACT..;
U.S. - Senate Committee scheduled to vote on PACT..;
Web-Based Companies must stop selling flavored cigarettes..;
Internet, Flavors everywhere - snuff being marketed to kids as hip, cool and healthy..;
U.S. customs officials bar imports bearing the Philip Morris USA trademark..;
Let's Get It Passed - Prevent All Tobacco Trafficking Act of 2009..;
U.S - PACT legislation passed by House..;
U.S. - PACT Legislation to be considered by House this month..;
We must get the United States Postal Service (USPS) out of the tobacco delivery business..;
PACT Legislation now in the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee..;
U.S. House Passes Bill to Prevent Tobacco Delivery By Mail..;
We must get the United States Postal Service (USPS) out of the tobacco delivery business..
Protect Our Children - Make it illegal to use the U.S. Postal Service to deliver any form of tobacco product...