U.S. Senate - unanimously passes the PACT Act..

Our Children Our Future

March 12, 2010 - The Senate late Thursday, March 11th unanimously passed a bill that could devastate the Seneca Nation's mail-order cigarette business, voting to ban the U.S. Postal Service from mailing tobacco products. The Senate's sudden and bipartisan passage of the Prevent All Cigarette Trafficking (PACT) Act thrilled anti-smoking advocates while infuriating the Senecas, who say the bill could threaten as many as 1,000 jobs in Western New York.

The Senate passed the bill as part of its routine legislative work at the end of Thursday's session. The House in May passed a slightly different version of the legislation by a 397-11 margin. But instead of having the two chambers work out their differences in a conference committee, congressional sources said the House is expected to quickly pass the Senate version of the bill, sending it on to President Obama for his signature.

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..
Gretchen Leffler, regional vice president of the American Cancer Society in Western New York: "Can you imagine a piece of legislation that is so common sense, so painfully obvious that, even in Washington's partisan climate, it passes the U.S. Senate unanimously?" "That's what the PACT Act is."

Leffler praised New York's senators, Democrats Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten E. Gillibrand, for standing firm in support of the bill. Gillibrand in particular has been the target of a Seneca Nation publicity campaign aimed at pressuring her to abandon her support for the legislation.

But Seneca Nation President Barry E. Snyder Sr. lashed out at the Senate action and urged House members to stop the bill. "The PACT Act is being portrayed as a tool to fight cigarette smuggling," Snyder said. "In reality, it is about big tobacco protecting market share. This action will result in the death of legitimate, treaty-sanctioned Native American commerce, causing significant economic harm." He angrily noting that no senators stood up for Indian sovereignty by opposing the bill.
"We will not back down," Snyder added. "We will pursue an aggressive campaign of outreach and education to inform the voters of Western New York which political leaders stand with the Seneca Nation and those who don't." The tribe claims the bill would wreck its tobacco business because it relies on the U.S. Postal Service to deliver 70 percent of its products.

Private shippers could still ship tobacco products. However, many — including FedEx, UPS and DSL — have bowed to state pressure and refused to ship them.

In addition to banning the mailing of cigarettes, the PACT Act requires those selling cigarettes on the Internet to:
• Pay all federal, state, local or Tribal tobacco taxes and affix tax stamps before delivering any tobacco products to any customer.
• Register with the state where they are based and make periodic reports to state tax collection officials.
• Check the age and ID of customers both when they purchase tobacco and when the tobacco products are delivered.

Reference: Senate vote endangers Seneca mail-order cigarette business by Jerry Zremski, NEWS WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, The Buffalo News, 3/12/2010.

Some PACT related news briefs:
Disappointment - U.S. legislators from New York State are delaying passage of PACT Act..;
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...