House Introduces Legislation to Outlaw Mail Order Cigarettes
Two days ago, Rep. John McHugh (
D R-NY), introduced legislation that would ban the mailing of cigarettes, smokeless tobacco, and roll-your-own tobacco. The relevant portion of the legislation is as follows:
Sec. 3002b. Nonmailability of certain tobacco products
`(a) In General- Cigarettes, smokeless tobacco, and roll-your-own-tobacco–
`(1) are nonmailable matter;
`(2) shall not be–
`(A) deposited in the mails; or
`(B) carried or delivered through the mails; and
`(3) shall be disposed of as the Postal Service directs.
`(b) Civil Penalty-
`(1) IN GENERAL- Any person who violates subsection (a)(2)(A) shall be liable to the United States for a civil penalty in an amount not to exceed $100,000 for each violation.
Jim Harper at Cato disapproves of the bill, but doesn’t think that it will affect too many people. I beg to differ–a quick Google search for “mail order cigarettes” unearthed quite a few internet mail order sites. And every single one of them will go out of business as a consequence.
Ostensibly, the reason for this legislation is to keep cigarettes out of the hands of minors. But surely this same goal could be accomplished by enacting mandatory ID checks–such as a driver’s license or other means. This legislation has been introduced before and failed to pass. Here’s hoping that it fails again. As long as cigarettes are a legal product, there is no reason to ban their use in the mail.
UPDATE: Commenter SDM informs me that McHugh is a Republican, not a Democrat as I previously noted.