By a vote of 421-5, the US House of Rerpesentatives today approved Congressman Faleomavaega's Stop Tobacco Smuggling in the Territories Act of
HR-338 amends the Contraband Cigarette Trafficking Act (CCTA) of 1978 to include American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and Guam.
Under the Act, 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, Guam nor the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands were included in the federal law.
Under Faleomavaega's measure, the Act will be amended to include include American Samoa, the CNMI 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.
Faleomavaega said although H.R. 338, which now goes to the Senate for review, will apply the CCTA to American Samoa, the provisions of CCTA are
only applicable if the local government implements a cigarette tax stamp program.
Last month, the congressman wrote to Governor Lolo Matalasi Moliga and the Fono encouraging them to pass a cigarette tax stamp program.
He said there's a possibility that the local government can receive funding from the U.S. Department of Interior’s Technical Assistance Program to help develop the tax stamp program.
Faleomavaega says American Samoa faces a serious problem of tobacco smuggling. According to a recent study, in 2010 alone, as many as 5.8
million cigarettes were smuggled into the territory.
The study found that tobacco smuggling resulted in an estimated loss of about $724,116 in revenues to the American Samoan government.
wow...cigarette smuggling is actually happening in am. samoa;who is responsible for such a criminal act? I appeal to the govt. particularly the departments of agriculture,and the port administration to take this issue seriously. evidently, someone is coordinating a blackmarket gate to smuggle tobacco into the territory and receiving good money from the sellers. suggestion;assign undercover personnels where needed to catch all culpits in tobacco smuggling.
we will soon get you cigarette smugglers.....
Lions, tigers, & bears
Really? Stricter penalties on cigarette smugglers? Rapists and murderers down here get a slap on the wrist, what kind of punishment will be dished out on smuggler in Am.Samoa? A study found a estimated loss of $724,116 of revenue? That's it? We have far bigger fish to fry here in the islands. We will be losing the only US bank in June, the roads are so bad that my mechanic is making more money from me than his dayjob, our gas is more costly than most cities in the US, too many of our children are moving up in education when they should be held back 'cause they have not retained the information they should have learned a few grade levels prior, our hospital and schools are in disarray, our ASG is faced with correcting years and years of abuse and corruption- and I can go on like this all day, and here is what our priority is, a cigarette tax stamp and fight cigarette smugglers? We're losing revenue of less than 3 quarters of 1 million US dollars. We are losing far more than that with the bigger problems we currently face in Am.Samoa. God bless us all.
A Cigarette tax stamp is a win-win situation!
While less than 3 quarters of a million dollars may not seem like much when compared to the $200 million or so the feds give this place every year, it is still a significant amount of money. The idea behind a cig tax stamp is that it would bring in more revenue than it cost to enforce. In addition, it is also a matter of fairness and health. Fairness: The present excise tax is $2.50 per pack of 20 cigs, and that is quite an incentive for an unscrupulous merchant to smuggle cigs into the territory (in other words, that $2.50 goes into his or pocket instead of the public coffers). At the same time, the honest merchant is making maybe 25 cents or so on each pack he or she sells. Health: Smuggled cigs are also a public health problem, as for one thing it makes it more difficult to track and combat cig consumption when the actual amount being brought into the territory is unknown. Also, can there be any doubt that cigs are costing the government as much money in health care costs as they are bringing in in tax revenue? So anything that can help combat the problem by reducing cig consumption (and at the same time bring in more tax revenue) is going to be a win-win situation!
Win-win situation is from a tax and health stance? Listen up Jack, and you might learn something. People addicted to cigarettes will pay whatever the cost is for a puff. Ask any Alaskan smoker. Smuggled cigarettes, legal cigarettes- they're both bad for your health. Honest or dishonest business, smokers will find their cigarettes and pay whatever premium necessary to get the nicotine in their bloodstream and smoke into their lungs. The point is that with the current crisis Amerika Samoa is faced with, there are more things that of higher priority than getting merchants to adhere to the rules and pay their fare share of taxes. Taxing cigarettes DOES NOT ELIMINATE THE ADDICTION TO NICOTINE. Understand that. No amount of taxation will curb an appetite of an addiction. We have crystal methamphetamine, a illegal drug,that is readily available to anybody ON THE ISLANDS willing to pay. So to say that taxation is going to combat the problem by "reducing cig consumption" clearly illustrates your lack of information of the real intrinsic problem at hand. Yes there are healthcare costs related to tobacco, but don't attempt to fool anybody into thinking that a tax will REDUCE cig consumption. "Win-win situation" sounds so much like a lousy used car salesman. You want to reduce cig consumption, get public health to do their job and educate and provide real tobacco cessation programs. However, and we are beating a friggin' already dead horse into the after-afterworld so to speak, we have so many more problems and issues to address, and cigarettes are a drop in the bucket compared to what we are facing RIGHT NOW- and we are on the losing end of this situation my friend.