The main thrust of the ReadMEDIA press releases was to demonize the Seneca Nation for selling mail-order cigarettes to children. No examples; just stating it as a matter of fact. Further, one would be led to believe that only children used the Internet for obtaining cigarettes.
I had to wonder why the parents of these children had given them credit cards in the first place and if they did, why didn't these parents check the billing statements for suspicious purchases? If these innocent children were using their parent's credit cards without their permission....didn't the parents wonder where all these mysterious charges were coming from? If I read "victory for the children" one more time, I will vomit on my keyboard.
The Seneca bashing continued with calls for New York's Governor to push through State-level excise taxes on wholesale tobacco BEFORE it was purchased by the evil Senecas to effectively violate their Treaty. The second theme was how much evaded tax money would now be collected and how wonderful that was.
I couldn't accept that only ReadMEDIA and Convenience Store News had written about the now PACT Law. If it happened in Washington, then surely the Washington Post would have written a story on it. I couldn't find one. Not one. I used every keyword combination I could think of. I worked my way through today's news. Nothing.
I emailed a number of people I knew in Scandinavia to see if PACT had made the Swedish news media. One response I received summed it up best: "Nothing. Not a word."
Next stop was the White House website. They would have something. On my first go-through, all I could find was stuff about Health Care; how wonderful it was, how everyone was in favor of it, and how America should be grateful to the President and the Democrat Congress for shoving it through. Finally, I found a statement from the Press Secretary on PACT....buried under a statement about the Federal Aviation Administration Extension Act.
There was no big photo op signing ceremony like the White House held for the Health Care overhaul or The Tobacco Act giving FDA control over the tobacco industry (except cigars). The closest I could come as to when the President physically signed the PACT Act was in the afternoon. Even that is unsubstantiated. No editorials, no op-ed pieces, no printed stories from the wire services.
As you can see from the White House statement and also the prevailing focus on what few other articles I could find was the word 'cigarettes'. PACT all seemed to be about cigarettes with an occasional mention of smokeless tobacco included as a throw-away. Even the name of the now-law, The Prevent All Cigarette Trafficking Act, screamed cigarettes.
Let us not forget the evil Seneca Nation was using loop-holes in our Treaties with them with regard to cigarettes and casinos. Greed and envy by Big Government. The Seneca's are being subjected to vitriol and hatred, especially in New York, for legally working the American system and exercising their rights under the Treaties imposed by the US Government.
I say good for them! The Senecas understand and practice legal American capitalism better than our elected so-called representatives. They live the American Dream...or did until once again the United States Government which has so exploited and maltreated Native Americans for centuries once again kicked them in the face. Why does equal opportunity apply to everyone in America except the people who were here first? I make no apologizes for the past. You can not pass judgement on history according to 21st century mores. The discovery, creation, and expansion of America occurred when "we came, we saw, we conquered" was perfectly acceptable.
But for the New York State Congressional Delegation to repeat these practices in the 21st century; for the President of the United States to sign this abomination into law? We would never re-institute slavery of any sort today. We have matured socially as a species where that would be completely unacceptable and abhorrent. Apparently, the standards of today don't apply to the Senecas or Native Americans in general....especially when it comes to money. Most certainly when it comes to money in the billion dollar+ range.
The Swedish Seneca Nation?
I'll wager none of you have heard of the Swedish Seneca Nation. Even Sweden didn't know they were Senecas until the Prevent All Cigarette Trafficking Act become law. I often speak of unintended consequences when it comes to major legislative changes. Politicians micro-managing public policy from a 100,000 foot view never anticipate what will happen on Main Street as a result of their Ivy Tower social engineering.
Then there is the just, plain "do what I say; not what I do" hypocrisy: President Obama is an admitted cigarette smoker. Does Committee for Tobacco Free Kids approve of the message Mr. Obama is sending to his own children, let alone the rest of America by continuing to smoke? Hypocrisy: CTFK doesn't care as long as the cash keeps flowing in and the relevance of their organization is protected.
As for President Obama, I truly understand and sympathize. Nicotine addiction is not easy to break, especially in a high-stress job. He started using nicotine gum when his smoking came to light during the last Presidential election campaign.
Today Mr. Obama both smokes cigarettes and uses nicotine gum since as we all know, nicotine gum is not really a cessation product, just another one of those low nicotine panaceas designed to keep smokers smoking and make insane amounts of profit for a pharma product which doesn't work. For his own sake, the sake of the nation, and the sake of his family, I truly wish the President had been introduced to Swedish Snus.
Now consider the poor Swedish Seneca Nation. The PACT Act will have a considerable negative impact on Snus Internet Stores based in Sweden. It's not so much the sales tax issue. Swedish eStores already collect VAT taxes on sales in the EU and elsewhere. The real killer is eliminating the ability for the Postal Service to be used for Swedish Snus delivery to the United States.
The selection and availability of snus available from US-based brick and mortar stores is incredibly less than what is available through the internet from Swedish eSnus Stores. Any given site out of Sweden may offer 120 to 170 varieties of snus. Conversely, over-the-counter Swedish Snus in the USA is limited to 5 or so versions of General Snus, maybe some Catch at certain stores. Very, very few stores carry V2, Gotlandssnus and the other smaller brands. More importantly, the geographic penetration of Swedish Snus is so low in the United States that without Swedish eSnus Stores, the product is just unavailable to the bulk of the population.
Snusers will pay taxes to get their favorite Swedish Snus fresh directly from Sweden. What most won't be willing to do in today's economy is pay $35+ for International UPS delivery compared to $4+ for postal delivery. Why did PACT prohibit tobacco shipments by the US Postal Service? The packages would still be required to have tobacco product labeling stickers and age verification. The US Postal service is running negative cash flow to the point where they have applied to suspend Saturday mail deliveries, close post offices, and lay off thousands of workers to keep afloat.
Did the framers of PACT even take into account how much money the post office makes on tobacco deliveries? Do they have any idea how much more draconian the cuts at USPS will have to be now? Do they even care that REAL Swedish Snus is 99% less harmful than smoking cigarettes? Do they understand that PACT will put a serious dent into Swedish Snus availability when smokers need it most? Do they even care about the health of the 45MM Americans who still smoke cigarettes? Does Congress appreciate that the 450 or so cigarette smuggling operations reported by BATF last year is going to explode by factors of 10; then 100? America is broke; where is BATF going to get the money to stop the new Black Market?
In a word, no. They don't want Americans to stop smoking or using tobacco products: they crave and need the tax money it generates.
The ironic point is many Big Pharma so-called smoking cessation aids appear to be more dangerous than cigarettes, let alone Scandinavian snus. Watch a commercial for Chantix. The smiling woman who loved smoking and never wanted to quit was suddenly able to do so easily with Chantix. Smokers watching start to wonder if maybe they should try Chantix....after all, doctors recommend it!
Then comes the end of the commercial where the possible side effects are disclosed. Cigarettes are linked to cancer and heart disease. Swedish Snus isn't any more dangerous than a cup of French Roast coffee. But Chantix?
"All patients being treated with CHANTIX should be observed for neuropsychiatric symptoms including changes in behavior, hostility, agitation, depressed mood, and suicide-related events, including ideation, behavior, and attempted suicide. These symptoms, as well as worsening of pre-existing psychiatric illness and completed suicide have been reported in some patients attempting to quit smoking while taking CHANTIX in the post-marketing experience. When symptoms were reported, most were during CHANTIX treatment, but some were following discontinuation of CHANTIX therapy.
These events have occurred in patients with and without pre-existing psychiatric disease. Patients with serious psychiatric illness such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and major depressive disorder did not participate in the pre-marketing studies of CHANTIX and the safety and efficacy of CHANTIX in such patients has not been established.
Advise patients and caregivers that the patient should stop taking CHANTIX and contact a healthcare provider immediately if agitation, hostility, depressed mood, or changes in behavior or thinking that are not typical for the patient are observed, or if the patient develops suicidal ideation or suicidal behavior. In many post-marketing cases, resolution of symptoms after discontinuation of CHANTIX was reported, although in some cases the symptoms persisted; therefore, ongoing monitoring and supportive care should be provided until symptoms resolve.
The risks of CHANTIX should be weighed against the benefits of its use. CHANTIX has been demonstrated to increase the likelihood of abstinence from smoking for as long as one year compared to treatment with placebo."
Gee, that's kind of a buzz-kill, isn't it? Is it worth the risk to "increase the likelihood of abstinence from smoking for AS LONG AS ONE YEAR compared to treatment with placebo"? Swedish Snus doesn't have any of those possible side effects. One in nine Swedes use snus and Sweden has the lowest cigarette smoking rate and tobacco related cancer deaths in all of Europe.
I stopped a 35+ year two pack a day smoking addiction in one week by switching to Swedish Snus almost three years ago. I haven't had a cigarette since or more importantly, wanted one. I'm still addicted to nicotine but that's my choice. At least I can enjoy my addiction without affecting anyone else. There is no Second Hand Snus.
Can The PACT Act be Repealed?
Of course not. No law of this scope involving this huge amount of money has ever been repealed and PACT will not break that streak. I've written a number of articles on PACT since it was introduced in the House. I laid out all the logical and reasonable arguments why PACT was a mistake. Those arguments don't matter anymore. PACT is here to stay.
The Prevent All Cigarette Trafficking Act is now the law of this land. There is nothing we can do which will turn back the clock. All we can do is sit back and see how Washington reacts to the New Black Market and all the other unintended consequences. But of one thing I am certain: Americans are a very ingenious people when it comes to getting what they want; government be damned. There will be lots of unintended consequences as a result of PACT and The Tobacco Act: very expensive consequences.
This country was founded over a tax revolt on tobacco and tea 234 years ago. Taxation without Representation was the battle cry. I hope for the sake of the United States of America I grew up in that nothing of this nature ever happens here again. But unintended or otherwise, there are consequences to every new law, every new tax, every new restriction of personal liberty foisted upon us by Government; Federal and State. Sooner or later, these will have to be dealt with and resolved to the satisfaction of the American people. Until then, welcome to Amerika. You have 89 days as of this writing to stockpile Swedish Snus.
Swedish Snus Ambassador to the United States
Reporting for SnusCENTRAL.org