Disappointment - U.S. legislators from New York State are delaying passage of PACT Act..

Our Children Our Future
March 8, 2010 - The main goal for passage of the PACT Act: to Protect Our Children - Make it illegal to use the U.S. Postal Service to deliver any form of tobacco product..

Back in January 2010 we reported that the Seneca Nation (of Indians) is publicly lobbying against the PACT Act it fears would severely damage Indian-operated cigarette sales and manufacturing operations. (NY State - Seneca Indians against U.S. Senator Gillibrand's support of bill to ban mailing of cigarettes..; NY State - Seneca Indians - lobbying against the PACT act..)

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. Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the majority leader, prepared the bill for passage on the floor. No senator has publicly opposed the legislation. We expected the legislation to be approved by the full senate and signed into law early in 2010.
The PACT act legislation has bipartisan support so it was felt it should not encounter any problem in becoming law. Afterall our goal is to protect our children - this law would make it illegal to use the U.S. Postal Service to deliver any form of tobacco product.

But now we find the Senecas, who control a gambling and cigarette empire that brings in more than $1 billion a year, campaign of back-room lobbying and public political threats may be paying off. It now appears to have shut down the legislation and kept the tribe in the cigarette business, a case study in the power of a well-financed special interest to thwart what had seemed to be a national consensus.

At the last minute, two or three Democratic senators told party leaders privately that they might block the bill, according to senior Senate Democratic aides. They spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly. The Senecas and their lobbyists said they did not know who their Senate protectors were.

By mid-December (2009), the Seneca campaign had won two important converts. Two western New York congressmen, Brian Higgins and Eric Massa, both Democrats, wrote letters to the state’s two senators, Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten E. Gillibrand, also Democrats, urging them to block Senate passage. Mr. Higgins and Mr. Massa had voted for the bill in the House, but they said the Senecas’ arguments about the economic impact had changed their minds. (Politician Eric Massa another embarrassment for Western New York.)

Both New York two senators, Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten E. Gillibrand are sponsors of the bill, and both said through spokesmen that they had not worked behind the scenes to slow its passage. Matt Canter, a spokesman for Ms. Gillibrand, said she supported economic development but not at the price of enabling teenage smoking.

Senate Democratic leaders could still revive the measure, perhaps by attaching it to some other bill. Republicans have talked of pushing forward, possibly to make trouble for Ms. Gillibrand.

Richard Nephew, co-chairman of the Seneca Nation’s foreign relations committee, said, the legislation would ban only cigarette shipments and not cigars. This is NOT true - the legislation defines "delivery sale" to mean any sale of cigarettes or smokeless tobacco to a consumer ordered by telephone, the mails, or the Internet or other online service.

Efforts to collect taxes from cigarettes sold to non-Indians through reservations in New York have been stalled for decades because governors have been concerned with possible violence. (New York State - state democrats insist governor tax cigarettes sold on Indian reservations..; NY State Governor Patterson - part of budget - collect Indian cigarette taxes..)

One in two cigarettes smoked in Ontario is illegal (illicit, smuggling, black market), robbing provincial and federal coffers of more than $2 billion a year and raising concerns about children gaining easy access to tobacco. The majority of contraband tobacco seized by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police from Britsh Columbia to Newfoundland come from the American side of Mohawk Indian reservation in New York State. (Canada, Ontario and Quebec - illegal cigarettes greater than 40% of consumption..)

References: Senecas See Comeback Over Sale of Cigarettes by DAVID D. KIRKPATRICK, The New York Times, 3/5/2010; Senecas confront tobacco roadblock As Congress threatens mail-order cigarette business, nation puts up a last-ditch fight by Jerry Zremski, The Buffalo News, 1/11/2010.

Some PACT related news briefs:
NATO - urging retailers to call their U.S.Senators to get the PACT Act passed..;
U.S. let's get the PACT bill passed by congress and then signed into law..;
NY State - Seneca Indians - lobbying against the PACT act.;
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...