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HomeNewsArchivesPERSONAL USE TOBACCO EXEMPTION MOVES AHEAD

PERSONAL USE TOBACCO EXEMPTION MOVES AHEAD

The effort to allow tourists to continue to take duty-free cigarettes back to the U.S. continued in Washington, D.C., on Thursday.
Delegate Donna Christian Christensen is fighting for to have "personal use" of U.S.-made cigarettes marked for export exempted from the law. Christensen met Thursday with representatives of the U.S. Customs Service and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms to explore strategies to resolve this issue as soon as possible.
The Source learned earlier this week that cruise ship passengers were being told on board their ships that they would not be allowed to take American tobacco products back home. One retailer estimated the loss of cigarette sales in the territory could mean a loss to the government of as much as $20 million.
"Both ATF, Customs and a staff member of the Joint Tax Committee assured me that the failure to exempt personal use from the language of this legislation was an oversight when it was included in the Balanced Budget Act of 1997 in the haste of closing minutes of the first session of the 105th Congress," Christensen said.
She said the issue affects all U.S. duty-free ports wherever they are located and the House Ways and Means Committee leadership, on both sides of the aisle, recognize the mistake and are prepared to move a "technical amendment" to reverse the oversight.
"The Treasury Secretary also strongly supports the exemption for "personal use," which would be the remedy," Christensen said. "Because of the severe repercussions this will have on our tourism industry, I will continue to work with my colleagues to ensure that the legislative solution that is necessary to fix this problem gets passed as soon as it is possible."
Christensen said the law was designed to prohibit re-importation of cigarettes marked for export for commercial usage, particularly large commercial shipments coming from Mexico. She said Customs Service and the ATF officials have told her that they would support a change to allow individuals to travel into the U.S. with "export only" cigarettes.

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The effort to allow tourists to continue to take duty-free cigarettes back to the U.S. continued in Washington, D.C., on Thursday.
Delegate Donna Christian Christensen is fighting for to have "personal use" of U.S.-made cigarettes marked for export exempted from the law. Christensen met Thursday with representatives of the U.S. Customs Service and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms to explore strategies to resolve this issue as soon as possible.
The Source learned earlier this week that cruise ship passengers were being told on board their ships that they would not be allowed to take American tobacco products back home. One retailer estimated the loss of cigarette sales in the territory could mean a loss to the government of as much as $20 million.
"Both ATF, Customs and a staff member of the Joint Tax Committee assured me that the failure to exempt personal use from the language of this legislation was an oversight when it was included in the Balanced Budget Act of 1997 in the haste of closing minutes of the first session of the 105th Congress," Christensen said.
She said the issue affects all U.S. duty-free ports wherever they are located and the House Ways and Means Committee leadership, on both sides of the aisle, recognize the mistake and are prepared to move a "technical amendment" to reverse the oversight.
"The Treasury Secretary also strongly supports the exemption for "personal use," which would be the remedy," Christensen said. "Because of the severe repercussions this will have on our tourism industry, I will continue to work with my colleagues to ensure that the legislative solution that is necessary to fix this problem gets passed as soon as it is possible."
Christensen said the law was designed to prohibit re-importation of cigarettes marked for export for commercial usage, particularly large commercial shipments coming from Mexico. She said Customs Service and the ATF officials have told her that they would support a change to allow individuals to travel into the U.S. with "export only" cigarettes.