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USPS Off Limits to Seneca Mail-Order Cigarette Businesses

A New York judge upholds the ban on mailing cigarettes but gives Seneca-owned businesses a temporary exemption from complying with cigarette tax laws.
August 11, 2010

BUFFALO, N.Y. �" A federal district court judge ruled last week that Seneca Indians can no longer ship cigarettes via the U.S. Postal Service, the Associated Press reports. Judge Richard Arcara decided that the tribe must comply with the mail-order prohibition found in the Prevent All Cigarette Trafficking Act (PACT). However, the judge allowed Seneca-owned businesses to temporarily not pay taxes on cigarettes.

The Seneca Nation filed a lawsuit saying PACT Act is unconstitutional. The court order will stand while the lawsuit winds its way through the court system.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of Justice is appealing the finding that requiring Internet sellers to comply with all state/local laws is a violation of due process. The next stop in both appeals is the Second Circuit Court of Appeals.

Yesterday, NACS, along with the New York Association of Convenience Stores, submitted its second amicus brief relating to the PACT Act litigation. "The district court erred in enjoining enforcement of provisions of the PACT Act that require Internet sellers of cigarettes and smokeless tobacco products to abide by the laws of the States and localities into which they ship such products, including those jurisdictions�� tax laws," the brief reads.

"Congress overwhelmingly enacted the PACT Act after many years of deliberation and investigation into the myriad ills caused by tax-evading Internet sales of tobacco products," the brief states.