PACT Act championed by McKenna, state AGs
OLYMPIA – Washington State Attorney General Rob McKenna congratulated Congress on Wednesday for approving the Prevent All Cigarette Trafficking (PACT) Act. The new law combats the multi-billion dollar Internet cigarette trade by restricting the mailing of tobacco products.
“For years, state attorneys general have worked to stop tobacco traffickers from evading state laws, flooding the market with artificially cheap cigarettes,” McKenna said. “Cheap tobacco drives up smoking rates and enables tobacco tax avoidance. Our thanks go to Congress and the President for supporting the PACT Act.”
The PACT act ramps up penalties for renegade businesses that use the U.S. Post Office to illegally deliver tobacco products. Attorney General Rob McKenna, the Tobacco Committee Co-chair for the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG), championed the measure by recruiting his fellow AGs to lobby for the passage of the bill.
The Washington State Attorney General’s Office won passage of similar state legislation in 2009. Senate Bill 5340 prohibits the shipment tobacco products purchased through the Internet or by mail to anyone other than licensed wholesalers or retailers.
State AGs and federal officials have kept an eye on interstate cigarette trafficking because it undercuts the public health principles of the landmark 1998 settlement with major tobacco companies – the Master Settlement Agreement – designed to lower tobacco use.
Six days after receiving unanimous Senate approval, the U.S. House of Representatives gave final approval in a 387-25 vote and sent the bill to President Obama for his signature. Once enacted, the legislation will curb the estimated $223 million in tax revenue lost by Washington state each year. Cigarette trafficking will also be elevated from a misdemeanor offense to a felony crime.
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