The March 11 Senate passage of the Prevent All Cigarette Trafficking Act (PACT Act), which addresses the long-standing convenience store industry concern of tax evasion via remote sellers of tobacco products, is a “major win” for retailers, according to NACS Senior Vice President of Government Relations Lyle Beckwith.
Authored by Sen. Herb Kohl (D-WI) and co-sponsored by a bipartisan group of 20 senators, this legislation (S. 1147) would help combat online cigarette sales that have robbed states of badly needed tax revenues and that undermine state laws that prevent youth access to tobacco products.
The PACT Act would strengthen federal laws on cigarettes sold over the Internet. In addition to preventing the U.S. postal service from delivering cigarettes, it would allow states to recover lost excise tax revenue and allow legitimate retailers to recover lost business. Additionally, the PACT Act would prevent sellers from circumventing state laws preventing minors from purchasing cigarettes. Native American lobbyists have been waging a furious battle to de-rail this legislation.
The House version, authored by Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY), previously passed by a vote of 397-11. While passing the PACT Act in the Senate is a major hurdle cleared, because of slight differences in the Senate and House bills, the House will need to take a final vote to accept the Senate version of the bill. It would then go to President Obama’s desk for his signature.
“Senate passage of the PACT Act is a huge victory for American taxpayers, American small business owners and America’s youth,” said Scott Ramminger, president and CEO of the American Wholesale Marketers Association (AWMA) and spokesperson for the Coalition to Stop Contraband Tobacco, of which NACS is a leading member. “We applaud the Senate for its action today and thank Sen. Kohl for his leadership in ensuring that contraband tobacco sales are eliminated.”
“NACS has been working for over 10 years to pass legislation to regulate Internet and mail-order tobacco sales,” said Beckwith. “Last night’s vote brings us closer to achieving our goal than we have ever been. We will continue to pressure the House to take the final step necessary for passage and enactment.”