Obama Signs Law Regulating Online Cigarette Sales

(April 1, 2010)

On March 31st, President Obama signed the Prevent All Cigarette Trafficking (PACT) Act, legislation to regulate the sale of tobacco products over the Internet and through the mail.  This is a dual strike at deceptive practices by Big Tobacco and another legislative victory for the American Lung Association and public health.  The PACT Act makes it harder for vendors to avoid paying federal, state, and local taxes and forces internet retailers to comply with other regulations of tobacco products, including selling to minors. 

Previously, online sellers of tobacco products often failed to pay state excise taxes – making cigarettes and tobacco products cheaper than store-bought substitutes.  Online and mail order venders were also an easy source of cigarettes for underage smokers.

The PACT Act will encourage more smokers to quit and limit the access of kids and young people to cigarettes.  With bi-partisan support in the House and Senate and key sponsorships from Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) and Sen. Herb Kohl (D-WI), the new legislation will help curb access to tobacco in a number of important ways.  It will:

  • Require all federal, state, and local taxes on tobacco products be paid and documented
  • Ban the delivery of tobacco products through the U.S. Postal Service
  • Require age verification upon  both the purchasing and delivery of tobacco products
  • Authorize greater penalties and provide better enforcement tools for state law enforcement

The American Lung Association strongly supports this legislation and greatly appreciates the leadership of President Obama, Senator Kohl, Congressman Weiner and the entire Congress in its efforts to prevent the illegal sale of tobacco products.