U.S. House approves bill to stop tobacco smuggling in the territories

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Congressman Faleomavaega Eni says that the House, by voice vote, passed H.R. 5934, legislation to stop tobacco smuggling in the Territories. The bill, known as the Stop Tobacco Smuggling in the Territories Act of 2012, was introduced in June by Faleomavaega to amend the Contraband Cigarette Trafficking Act of 1978 to include American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands, and Guam. 

“I would like to thank Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Mr. Lamar Smith, and Ranking Member, Mr. John Conyers Jr. and all members of the committee for their support on this bill.  I also want to acknowledge Speaker John Boehner, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi for their leadership,” Faleomavaega said.  

“American Samoa faces a serious problem of tobacco smuggling. According to a recent study, in 2010 alone, as many as 5,792,924 cigarettes were smuggled into the territory. The study found that tobacco smuggling resulted in a loss of about $724,116 in revenues to the American Samoan government,” the congressman added. 

“Under the Contraband Cigarette Trafficking Act that Congress passed in 1978, it is illegal to ship, sell, transport or possess more than 10,000 cigarettes (500 packs) per month not bearing the tax stamp of the jurisdiction in which they are found.  Violation is a felony punishable by up to five years in prison and seizure of the contraband cigarettes. These penalties do not currently apply to American Samoa because neither American Samoa, nor Guam or the Commonwealth of the Northern Marinas Islands were included in the Contraband Cigarette Trafficking Act.” 

“H.R. 5934 will amend the Contraband Cigarette Trafficking Act to include American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands and Guam, and give law enforcement an additional tool in combating tobacco smuggling in American Samoa, by creating stricter penalties for those caught smuggling tobacco.”

I will continue to follow this issue closely as H.R. 5934 is now on its way to the Senate for its consideration,” Faleomavaega concluded.


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