S. 1147... New Federal Law Targets Seneca Indian Reservation

Submitted by SadInAmerica on Sun, 04/04/2010 - 4:39pm.

President Obama signed into law the Federal PACT Act on March 31st, 2010. The PACT act (S. 1147) makes tobacco products a non-mailable material. The change in classification was an end-run in the continued battle between New York State and the Seneca Indian Reservation.

The New York State Health Department, in a 2004 study, found that 10% of New Yorkers were buying cigarettes via mail order or online and that as many as 1/3 of NY smokers were purchasing cigarettes at an Indian reservation.

According the New York State, the highest-volume online cigarette sales websites are located on the Seneca Indian Reservation.

The PACT act effectively shuts down these businesses entirely, making it a violation of federal law to mail cigarrettes.

The new law, passed overwhelmingly by Congress earlier this month, requires Internet and other mail-order sellers of cigarettes and smokeless tobacco, including Indians, to:

Pay all applicable federal, state and local taxes and affix related tax stamps before delivering cigarettes or smokeless tobacco to any customer;

Comply with state and local laws as if the sellers were tobacco product retailers located in the same jurisdiction as their customers;

Register with the state and make periodic reports to state tax collection officials;

To stop sales to minors, check the age and ID of customers at both points of purchase and delivery.

The law, which takes effect in 90 days, makes tobacco products nonmailable matter, meaning that the U.S. Postal Service cannot be used to deliver them. For some years, common carriers such as UPS and FedEx have refused to handle tobacco products because of legal concerns. The PACT Act also strengthens penalties for illegal sales and allows state attorneys general to enforce the law.

"The availability of cheap, tax-free cigarettes undermines the health and economic benefits of New York's cigarette tax. Passage of the federal PACT act will help cut off the supply through Internet sales which has allowed cheaper cigarettes to be sold to our children through the postal service," stated Julianne Hart, NYS Director of Advocacy for the American Heart Association. "

Proponents of the bill emphasized the ability of children to purchase cigarettes over the internet, playing on the sympathies of Congressmen in their efforts to pass the bill.

Online cigarette sales sites, however, don't allow credit card/debit card purchases, have always required photo ID for proof of age and bank account information to verify the identity of the purchaser.

Opponents say the move was just one more tactic in the ongoing battle between New York State and Indian reservations over the legality of taxing sales from native-owned businesses located on the reservations.

By treaty, New York State has no authority to tax sales that take place on the reservations. The PACT Act, a federal law, has effectively prevented a large percentage of those sales, putting mail-order cigarette companies out of business overnight.

New York Congressman Anthony Weiner sponsored the bill in the House of Representatives. Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand were cosponsors of the bill in the Senate.

Nathan Barker - April 2, 2010 - source GouverneurTimes

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Submitted by SadInAmerica on Sun, 04/04/2010 - 4:39pm.


KelsieS (not verified) | Tue, 04/06/2010 - 12:56am

We should trace the main root of this problem.We should not immediately conclude that the very reason of poverty is payday lenders.Correlation does not, and will not, ever prove causality.The recent allegation that payday lenders on reservations are the cause of poverty on Indian reservations is the most ludicrous idea I've ever heard. Granted, it does raise questions about sovereign immunity, yes, but there was poverty on reservations FAR before payday lenders showed up. It's like finding a cancer patient that is drinking orange juice, and saying ah ha! Orange juice causes cancer.

Anonymous (not verified) | Sun, 04/04/2010 - 6:47pm

Just another move towards controlling the people, now he is going after the Native Americans. I suggested locally on a radio show that the Native Americans should use other means to make money by using government legislation to their advantage, example, Obamacare, Native Americans should look into making reservations a medical tourist destination, build clinics, hospitals, etc. I am sure many retiring MDs could help with this and I am sure many Americans would seek medical care from them once Obamacare begins rationing services..