Lawmakers to Introduce Federal Legislation to Tighten Internet Tobacco Sales

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Lawmakers to Introduce Federal Legislation to Tighten Internet Tobacco Sales

WASHINGTON -- U.S. Reps. Mark Green (R-Wis.) and Marty Meehan (D-Mass.) will introduce legislation Thursday to strengthen federal regulations on tobacco sales over the Internet.

Green and Meehan will unveil their bill and discuss the measure at a news conference tomorrow at the Cannon House Office Building Terrace in Washington. They will be joined at the event by organizations supporting the legislation, which include the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS). Two convenience store retailers will also participate in the event: Gary Krull, president of DePere, Wis.-based Country Express Auto/Truck Stop, and Lily Bentas, president and CEO of Canton, Mass.-based Cumberland Farms Inc.

"This legislation will address a significant loophole that negatively impacts the ability of the more than 132,000 convenience stores operating in the U.S. to compete on a level playing field," said Allison Shulman, director of government affairs for NACS.

As states continue to raise their excise taxes -- there have been three dozen state cigarette tax increases implemented since January 1, 2002, according to NACS -- smokers are flocking to remote sellers for tax-free cigarettes. Forrester Research estimates that 14 percent of all cigarette sales will be via the Internet by 2005 if loopholes are not addressed.

"The Green-Meehan bill ensures that the tax burdens are equal for all retailers of cigarettes and smokeless tobacco," Shulman said.