New law prevents mailing cigarettes to deployed troops
Congress working on corrective bill
Houston County Courier
By Lynda Jones
Parents, families and friends of U.S. troops stationed in Afghanistan are discovering a new law that affects what they can mail to their loved ones. A local citizen recently attempted to mail cigarettes in a care package to her son, who is stationed in Afghanistan. She was shocked and upset when she was told cigarettes could no longer be mailed to her son’s location. On March 31, President Barack Obama signed the Prevent All Cigarette Trafficking Act, Public Law No. 111-154. The law went into effect on June 29. The United States Postal Service issued an explanation of the new law on June 17. The USPS news release states, “With only limited exceptions, the Postal Service will no longer be allowed to accept or transport packages containing cigarettes or smokeless tobacco products. The general mailability ban will extend to cigarettes, roll-your-own tobacco and smokeless tobacco. The prohibition does not include cigars.” The USPS additionally states, “The law does permit infrequent lightweight shipments by age-verified adults to recipients who are at least the age of majority for purchase of tobacco. Shipments between businesses in the tobacco industry will also be permitted, as well as cigarettes sent to consumers age 21 and above for testing or public health purposes. “Most shipments will require photo identification and age verification consistent with the minimum age requirements in the locality of destination.” For troops stationed overseas in the combat zone, the requirement to produce identifi-cation and age verification prevents them from receiving cigarettes and smokeless tobac-co because they are not near an APO box or post office. Sean Brown, communications director for Congressman Joe Barton (TX-06), said the new law was intended to prevent children and teens from being able to buy cigarettes over the Internet and that Barton signed the bill. Unfortunately, Brown said, an unintended consequence of the new law is the impact on troops in Afghanistan. He said there is a bill floating around the House and the Senate to correct the problem, and that the USPS is also working to correct the problem.