Postal Service offers solution to ban on tobacco shipments to troops overseas

By Ed O'Keefe
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, August 13, 2010

Military service members serving overseas once again will be able to receive care packages with cigarettes and other tobacco products starting late this month.

A law meant to ban tobacco smuggling and to prevent children from ordering tobacco through the mail went into effect June 29. The Prevent All Cigarette Trafficking Act of 2009, introduced by Sen. Herb Kohl (D-Wis.), permits people to send tobacco products for noncommercial purposes if both the shipper and the receiver are legal adults and the package includes delivery confirmation.

The new law prohibited the friends and families of troops deployed overseas from sending care packages with tobacco through first-class mail. The U.S. Postal Service initially said customers could use only Express Mail to ship tobacco products to comply with the law. But military families protested because Express Mail packages cannot be sent overseas.

Starting Aug. 27, military care packages with tobacco can be sent using Priority Mail, which ships to overseas military addresses, according to USPS spokesman Greg Frey.

"We hope that with this modification we're able to serve the needs of Americans serving overseas," Frey said.

Kohl and other lawmakers had promised a quick solution to their oversight. In a statement Thursday, Kohl said, "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."

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