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    Senate Passes PACT Act

    March 11 unanimous vote moves anti-trafficking bill forward, but hurdles remain.

    WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The Senate unanimously passed the Prevent All Cigarette Trafficking Act (PACT Act) March 11, which would help prevent tobacco tax evasion and underage purchasing by consumers through a ban on remote sales of tobacco.

    The bill -- which passed the House in May -- is authored by Sen. Herb Kohl of Wisconsin and co-sponsored by a bipartisan group of 20 senators. The House version, penned by Rep. Anthony Weiner of New York, passed by a vote of 397-11. But because the House and Senate version are different, the House will need vote to accept the Senate version, which if passed, the bill would go to President Barack Obama's desk.

    The passage out of the Senate is a "major win" for c-store retailers, according to NACS Senior Vice President of Government Relations Lyle Beckwith.

    "NACS has been working for over 10 years to pass legislation to regulate Internet and mail-order tobacco sales," Beckwith said in a statement. "Last night's vote brings us closer to achieving our goal than we have ever been. We will continue to pressure the House to take the final step necessary for passage and enactment."
    The Coalition to Stop Contraband Tobacco, a group of individuals, associations, businesses and other organizations supporting the PACT Act, also applauded the effort.

    "Passage of the PACT Act is a huge victory for American taxpayers, American small business owners and America's youth," coalition spokesperson, Scott Ramminger, who is also AWMA president and CEO, said in a statement. "We applaud the Senate for its action today and thank Sen. Kohl for his leadership in ensuring that contraband tobacco sales are eliminated."

    The PACT Act would help combat online sales of untaxed cigarettes and help prevent youth access to tobacco by banning shipping of cigarettes through the U.S. Postal Service. It also closes gaps in current federal laws regulating "remote" or "delivery" sales of cigarettes and smokeless tobacco products.

    With unanimous support the Senate Judiciary Committee approved the PACT Act in Nov. 2009.

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