U.S. Postal Service Destroys 10,000 Cartons of Cigarettes Following Settlement

Connecticut attorney general says early report shows reforms are working
U.S. Postal Service van
Photograph: Shutterstock

In first-quarter 2023, the U.S. Postal Service destroyed about 3,000 packages containing a total of 10,000 cartons of cigarettes shipped from overseas in violation of U.S. law, Connecticut Attorney General William Tong said.

Connecticut was one of five states that reached a settlement with the Postal Service in August 2022 over how the agency handles illegal cigarette packages. In the settlement, the Postal Service agreed to reforms in how it detects cigarette packages in international mail, destroys cigarette packages sent illegally to the United States and designates a compliance manager to oversee the Prevent All Cigarettes Trafficking (PACT) Act compliance.

The settlement stemmed from an October 2019 lawsuit where New York City and the state of California sued the Postal Service, alleging it transmitted packages that the Postal Service knew or had reasonable cause to believe contained cigarettes in violation of the PACT Act. The service denied any allegations of unlawful conduct or wrongdoing.

“We took action to force USPS to do its job to stop the flow of foreign contraband cigarettes into Connecticut and the United States,” Tong said Thursday. “These early reports show our settlement provisions are working, resulting in the detection and destruction of thousands of smuggled cigarettes.”

Contraband cigarettes can cost states hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost tax revenue, and hinder smoking cessation efforts, Tong said.

Of the 3,000 packages that were detected, seized and destroyed by the Postal Service due to the reforms enacted through the settlement, 44 were destined for addresses in Connecticut, he said.

The largest number of cartons—nearly 8,000—entered through the international postal facility at John F. Kennedy International Airport, Tong said. Most shipments were mailed from China, Israel and Russia, and many addresses received packages of cigarettes at commercial mail drops in sufficiently large quantities that indicated the cigarettes were for re-sale, he said.

The Postal Service did not immediately reply to CSP’s request for comment for this story.

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