Judge Delays Ruling on PACT Act & USPS Delivery
Judge Richard Arcara of the US District Court for the Western District of New York has issued a series of rulings, the effect of which is that his temporary restraining order may be extended as far out as July 30. That TRO prevents enforcement of the Prevent All Cigarette Trafficking (PACT) Act as it relates to the Seneca Free Trade Association and the Seneca Smokeshop. It is expected, though, that Judge Arcara will issue a preliminary injunction ruling prior to July 30.
Last week Judge Arcara issued the initial temporary restraining order in response to a suit brought by Seneca Tobacco business owner Aaron Pierce. The judge initially said he would rule on the matter this week. Instead, the Seneca Free Trade Association was allowed to intervene and Judge Arcara extended the TRO.
In his July 2 order, Judge Arcara, in his extension decision, delayed his preliminary injunction decision and extended the temporary restraining order. Of note, Judge Arcara ruled that mailed packages must state the name and address of the sender, the sender must be a member of the Seneca Free Trade Association, and that mailings can occur only through one of three approved post offices in the Western New York Federal Judicial District.
The temporary restraining order on enforcement of the PACT Act pertains only to the Seneca plaintiffs in the case. However, it is unclear whether the government will begin enforcing the PACT Act generally or wait for the judge’s final ruling.
AWMA believes that businesses not party to the suit should still continue to consider the PACT Act ban on USPS deliveries to be effective. AWMA will advise members immediately if the Judge enters a final decision to nullify the pertinent PACT Act provisions or if the government advises it will delay enforcement.
The PACT Act officially became effective on June 29th and the provision banning the delivery of cigarettes and smokeless tobacco through the U.S. Postal Service became effective on that date as well. The intent of the PACT Act – including the USPS delivery ban – is to crack down on the illegal Internet sales of cigarettes and smokeless tobacco which costs states millions in lost revenue and allows these products to more easily end up in the hands of minors. AWMA supported enactment of the PACT Act for these reasons and because these sales were also undercutting legitimate, law-abiding distributor sales.