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February 11, 2010 01:09 AM UTC

Senators Udall and Bennet Should Support the PACT Act

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  • by: ColoradoMountainGuy

With all the controversial legislation under discussion at the federal level, one very important bill, s.1147 the Prevent All Cigarette Trafficking (PACT) Act, has not received the kind of attention it deserves. This is a bill which would go a long way to protecting Colorado’s children and creating a more competitive economic climate while closing legal loopholes in online tobacco sales. The PACT Act enjoys broad bipartisan support, but it’s unclear if our U.S. Senators support the bill. Given the seriousness of the problem which this legislation addresses, I hope Senators Bennet and Udall will come forward as a leaders by cosponsoring this important legislation.

Currently, out-of-date federal statutes regulate online tobacco retailers. These are regulations, which were written well before anyone could have imagined the development of internet commerce, result in online tobacco vendors are not being subject to the same identification requirements as brick-andmortar retailers. As a result, some online retailers are selling cigarettes and smokeless tobacco products to our children and teenagers. The PACT Act would make sure that everyone, both physical stores and online sellers, are using rigorous identification checks which will go a long way in ensuring our children aren’t buying tobacco products.

The PACT Act also levels the competitive playing field between brick-and-mortar tobacco retailers and online vendors. Currently, online retailers are not collecting state and federal taxes on tobacco sales, leading to a built-in illegal price advantage for their products. This isn’t fair to retailers who play by the rules. It undercuts the economic health of chain stores and mom and pop retailers, the folks who employ us and our neighbors and ensure that the money we spend stays in the local community. It also deprives our state government of badly-needed revenue and forces our legislators to look into cutting vital services or seeking to further tax folks who already play by the rules. This legislation makes sure that if you’re an online tobacco vendor, you’re following the same rules and laws that everyone else has to.

This legislation also helps our law enforcement officials. In order to ensure that this is a bill with teeth, the PACT Act allows law enforcement to charge violators with committing a federal offense. The PACT Act gives our law enforcement the tools they needs to protect our children from illegal tobacco sales and make sure that everyone is obeying the law.

There has been a lot of dialogue at both the state and the federal level about how we can improve the Colorado economy and try to stem some of the bleeding our state government is seeing in its revenue streams. S.1147, the Prevent All Cigarette Trafficking (PACT) Act, which enjoys broad support from a wide array of legislators and citizens, protects Colorado’s children, and actually does something to promote a healthier economy for our state and country. I hope that Senator Bennet takes the lead on this in order to protect our children and our economy.

If you’d like to learn more, including how you can help make sure this bill gets passes, please visit the home of the Coalition to Stop Contraband Tobacco (http://www.coalitiontostopcontrabandtobacco.com/).

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