The US Postal Service will enforce its restrictions on the mailing of almost all tobacco products on 29 June. The agency has declared this in a set of rules that appear to leave Seneca Nation businesses with no loopholes for mailing their tax-free cigarettes.
The Seneca Nation has marketed cigarettes by mail for years, providing an income to the Native American population.
The rules state that “Non-mailable cigarettes and smokeless tobacco deposited in the mail are subject to seizure and forfeiture. Senders of non-mailable cigarettes or smokeless tobacco are subject to criminal fines, imprisonment and civil penalties.”
According to the Trafficking Act, passed by Congress and signed by President Obama earlier this year, the mailing of almost all tobacco products must be banned. These rules spelled out by the Postal Service make only narrow exceptions. Tobacco companies can ship products to each other “for business purposes”, or to state or federal agencies “for regulatory purposes”. Adults can infrequently send lightweight tobacco packages to each other, and anyone receiving such a package will have to go to a post office to pick it up – meaning postal officials will be able to tell if that person is old enough to buy cigarettes. Intrastate shipments within Alaska and Hawaii are also allowed.
Tobacco companies can also send cigarettes to adults for consumer testing purposes, and federal agencies can ship tobacco products for public health purposes. In addition to banning the mailing of most tobacco products, the new law requires online cigarette sellers 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 when they purchase tobacco and when the tobacco products are delivered.