USPS settles lawsuit over foreign cigarette shipments
By Bill McAllister, Washington Correspondent
The United States Postal Service has agreed to settle a lawsuit that alleged it turned a blind eye to the mailing of cigarettes in violation of a 2010 federal law known as the Prevent All Cigarette Trafficking Act.
California Attorney General Rob Bonta announced Aug. 1 that the lawsuit, which California and New York City initially filed against the USPS in New York in 2019, was being resolved with a settlement that should allow the Postal Service to crack down on the mailings.
“For too long, the Postal Service has allowed international smugglers to evade the law and send contraband cigarettes into California,” Bonta said in an Aug. 1 news release.
“Today’s settlement will finally make these packages undeliverable through new policies to identify and prevent delivery of these harmful products,” he said.
Bonta said the California Department of Justice had repeatedly complained to the USPS that cigarettes were entering the country through international mail, but the Postal Service had not acted on the warnings.
Bonta said that as part of the settlement the Postal Service would end its “return to sender” program, which allowed confiscated cigarette packages to be delivered or returned to the original sender to be remailed at a later date.
In resolving the lawsuit, the Postal Service denied it had engaged in any “unlawful conduct or wrongdoing.”
Under the Prevent All Cigarette Trafficking Act, postal officials are not allowed to accept any mail packages containing cigarettes or smokeless tobacco.
The states of Illinois, Connecticut and Pennsylvania joined the lawsuit after it had been filed.
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