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Tuesday, May 17, 2022
HomeNewsArchivesBILL TO STOP TOBACCO SEIZURES INTRODUCED

BILL TO STOP TOBACCO SEIZURES INTRODUCED

Delegate Donna Christian-Christensen's efforts to have the ban on tobacco products marked for "export only" repealed took a big step forward Tuesday as Rep. Charles Rangel introduced the bill in the House.
"I intend to work with Congressman Rangel to get this bill passed into law as soon as possible," Christian-Christensen said in a release Wednesday.
The delegate announced earlier this month that she was working with Rangel, the senior Democrat on the House Ways and Means Committee and Joint Taxation Committee, to draft an amendment to a 1997 statute that prohibits the re-importation of U.S.-made, tax-free tobacco products bearing the "export only" label.
If approved by the committee, the bill will then have to go through the full legislative process.
Meantime, the delegate is continuing to press the administration to do something to resolve the issue until the legislation goes through. She has appealed to President Clinton to suspend seizures until the matter can be appropriately addressed.
Tourists bringing tobacco products into the U. S. are now being stopped by U.S. Customs agents and having their cigarettes confiscated. The Source reported earlier this month that cruise ship passengers were being told that they would not be allowed to take back home U. S. tobacco products purchased in the Virgin Islands.
The tobacco ban represents a loss of revenue to the V.I. that has been estimated at up to $20 million per year. Dominick Codispot of West Indies Corp. said WICorp. alone pays the government $1 million a year in excise and gross receipt taxes on tobacco.
Tourists are allowed to take home up to five cartons of cigarettes purchased in the territory duty-free.
The conflict stems from a misleading interpretation of the 1997 statute, according to V.I. lobbyist Peter Hiebert of Washington, D.C. He terms it an "overly broad" reading of the law, which was not intended to affect tobacco purchases for personal use.

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Delegate Donna Christian-Christensen's efforts to have the ban on tobacco products marked for "export only" repealed took a big step forward Tuesday as Rep. Charles Rangel introduced the bill in the House.
"I intend to work with Congressman Rangel to get this bill passed into law as soon as possible," Christian-Christensen said in a release Wednesday.
The delegate announced earlier this month that she was working with Rangel, the senior Democrat on the House Ways and Means Committee and Joint Taxation Committee, to draft an amendment to a 1997 statute that prohibits the re-importation of U.S.-made, tax-free tobacco products bearing the "export only" label.
If approved by the committee, the bill will then have to go through the full legislative process.
Meantime, the delegate is continuing to press the administration to do something to resolve the issue until the legislation goes through. She has appealed to President Clinton to suspend seizures until the matter can be appropriately addressed.
Tourists bringing tobacco products into the U. S. are now being stopped by U.S. Customs agents and having their cigarettes confiscated. The Source reported earlier this month that cruise ship passengers were being told that they would not be allowed to take back home U. S. tobacco products purchased in the Virgin Islands.
The tobacco ban represents a loss of revenue to the V.I. that has been estimated at up to $20 million per year. Dominick Codispot of West Indies Corp. said WICorp. alone pays the government $1 million a year in excise and gross receipt taxes on tobacco.
Tourists are allowed to take home up to five cartons of cigarettes purchased in the territory duty-free.
The conflict stems from a misleading interpretation of the 1997 statute, according to V.I. lobbyist Peter Hiebert of Washington, D.C. He terms it an "overly broad" reading of the law, which was not intended to affect tobacco purchases for personal use.