USPS Issues Tobacco Mailing Rules

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) earlier this week published a Notice of Proposed Rule to implement the provisions of the PACT Act, which prohibits the mailing of cigarettes, roll-your-own tobacco and smokeless tobacco, according to a report by the National Association of Tobacco Outlets (NATO).

USPS will attempt to publish a final rule effective June 29, 2010, which covers the general non-mailability provisions of the PACT Act. The proposed rule states that cigarettes, roll-your-own tobacco and smokeless tobacco cannot be mailed in the continental United States, and any of these tobacco products deposited into the mail are subject to seizure and forfeiture, while the sender is subject to criminal fines, imprisonment and civil penalties. Cigars can continue to be mailed.

However, there is an exception to allow these tobacco products to be mailed within the states of Alaska and Hawaii.

In addition, the proposed rule states that USPS also concluded that cigarettes, roll-your-own tobacco and smokeless tobacco cannot be handled through the U.S. Mail either outbound to international destinations or inbound from international locations.

According to the notice, which was cited by NATO: "The Postal Service does not believe that any alternative exists at this time to allow U.S. mailers to tender cigarettes and smokeless tobacco as outbound international mail or to receive them as inbound international mail under the PACT Act's exceptions."

NATO noted this position should further reduce the sale of these tobacco products from Internet sellers located outside the U.S.

Public comments to the proposed rule must be submitted by May 17, 2010. NATO said it plans to submit comments supporting the proposed rule.

In other tobacco news, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently issued a "Guidance" document regarding the reissue of its 1996 rule banning color advertisements of tobacco products. The FDA was required to reissue the rule under the recently enacted law giving the agency authority to regulate tobacco.

The new guidance states the agency will not take any enforcement action regarding color tobacco advertisements against any retailer, wholesaler or manufacturer while the FDA's appeal is pending of a Kentucky court decision that struck down the color ad ban.

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