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President Barack Obama last month signed the Prevent All Cigarette Trafficking (PACT Act), which addresses the long-standing convenience store industry concern about tax evasion by remote sellers of tobacco products.
The PACT Act takes effect in late June and will:
Make it a federal offense if tobacco retailers to fail to comply with all state tax laws when remotely selling tobacco.
Require remote sellers to verify the purchaser's age.
Prohibit shipping of tobacco products via the United States Postal Service (USPS).
Retail associations applauded the effort, including NACS.
"The PACT Act will help combat illegal, online cigarette sales that have siphoned hundreds of millions of dollars in tax revenues away from state governments and undermined state laws that prevent America's youth from gaining access to tobacco products," said NACS Senior Vice President of Government Relations Lyle Beckwith.
Meanwhile, the FDA issued a final rule of regarding the sale, marketing and distribution of cigarettes and other tobacco products.
The new rule will go into effect June 22, 2010. Under the 2009 Tobacco Control Act, which gave the FDA authority to regulate tobacco products, the agency was required to publish this final rule that is nearly identical to a regulation issued by the FDA in 1996.
New sale and distribution requirements, as published on the FDA's Web site, include the prohibition of:
Sales of tobacco to people younger than 18.
Sales of cigarette packages with fewer than 20 cigarettes.
Sales of tobacco products in vending machines, self-service displays, or other impersonal modes, except in adult-only facilities.
Free samples of tobacco products, except in qualified, adult-only facilities.
While some of the new rules are already reflected in state-level agreements, the newly published rules set a uniform standard for all states, said Lawrence Deyton, M.D., director of the FDA's Center for Tobacco Products.
He added penalties for tobacco retailers violating the rules could include warning letters, a financial penalty, a seizure of inventory and/or criminal penalties.