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Tobacco allowed in mail to troops overseas

By Lance Cpl. Sean Dennison | | August 26, 2010

The U.S. Postal Service will again allow shipping tobacco-filled care packages to deployed troops Aug. 27, 2010, by adding priority mail as a shipping option with delivery confirmation.

The adjustment, announced Aug. 24, 2010, is a modification to the Prevent All Cigarette Trafficking Act, which went into effect July, and, although aimed at preventing tobacco smuggling and underage online ordering, prevented troops from receiving tobacco from family members.

Only priority mail can be shipped to Army and Fleet Post Office addresses. Under the previous policy, tobacco could only be shipped via express mail, which does not reach APO or FPO addresses, making it impossible to ship to deployed troops.

“It’s a very delicate balancing act to remain in compliance with the law and still serve the needs of our customers, and in this particular case, those brave men and women overseas,” said Greg Frey, U.S. Postal Service spokesman.

U.S. Senator Herb Kohl, the bill’s sponsor, was notified of American service members’ lack of tobacco access and requested the U.S. Post Master to rectify the situation.

“I’m pleased that the Postal Service responded so quickly to the concerns of our military families and found a way to honor the original intent of the bill: to keep cigarettes out of the hands of children and prevent tobacco smugglers from profiting on the black market,” said Kohl.

The PACT act still mandates that tobacco can only be sent with 10 ounces per package and with a maximum of 10 shipments to a single person in a 30-day period. Mailers must show proof of legal age to purchase tobacco at the time of mailing and confirm the recipient is at least 18 years of age.

“They should have some kind of exemption from (this law),” said Staff Sgt. Daniel Hernandez, military postal chief. “They’re out there fighting, they should be allowed to receive some love.”

The adjustment only affects tobacco shipments to APO and FPO addresses, all other PACT restrictions remain the same.

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