As a grizzled old partisan of the Swedish Snus Wars, I've witnessed travesties of justice, science mocked while harmful profit and tax driven tobacco products flourished. I've walked the smoke obscured corridors of the cigarette black market; both in the US and abroad. Most of what I hear is laughter.
Post-PACT Act, the damning legislation which was going to crush the Seneca Indian Tribes of northern NY by violating their treaty rights to sell tobacco products NY tax free isn't working so well. Latest numbers show that over 51% of cigarette and tobacco products sold in New York are Black Market goods! Over half!
NY is not alone in this either. History shows that punitive taxes create and encourage the black market.
And now it gets personal. I received a letter about 3 weeks from the Port of Cleveland office of US Customs and Border Patrol.
The price of Swedish snus at the major eStores has always varied to one degree or another but never to the extent seen today. Factors such as the PACT Act, The Tobacco Control Act, and wild swings in currency values are the major contributors. When The Northerner opened a US warehouse and purchased the GetSnus.com domain from Swedish Match whose lawyers felt the liability outweighed the advantages, Sweden-based Northerner suddenly had a physical presence within the United States, for better and especially for worse.
I was invited to meet with Frank Svandal; owner of Northerner.com, in Gothenburg last June. SnusCentral.com was looking at the viability of opening a US warehouse at the time. Among a range of topics, he gave his thoughts on moving Northerner from being retail driven to distributor driven. He envisioned the revenue shift from direct retail snus sales to selling to American eStores and brick and mortar stores as a distributor. I admit to being intruiged but the timing kept nagging at me.
After taking with Northerner and others, our due diligence led us to one inescapable conclusion. While opening a US facility would, at that time, be a profitable move, it simply wasn't worth the risk with the PACT and Kennedy/Waxman legislation gaining steam in the US Congress.
The US Congress may be leaving Washington for more important things...like getting re-elected; the Government bureaucracy is proudly doing its best to ruin the country by continuing the War on Tobacco.
While the USPS runs $3BB in the red, Congress has refused to increase the price of stamps, and as more of our mail mysteriously never makes it to the final destination, FDA's Tobacco Control Act (TCA) and BATF's Prevent all Cigarette Trafficking Act (PACT) continue to fight to keep all tobacco (including Swedish Snus but not Cigars) from being shipped via USPS. Did anyone at the Congressional Budget Office run the numbers to see how massive the amount of revenue this ban is costing the US postal service? It seems that cigarette and smokeless tobacco smuggling terrorists only use the USPS: they have never heard of UPS, FedEx, DHL, or even U-Haul. READ COMPLETE ARTICLE....
It's that time again. While the USPS runs $3BB in the red, Congress has refused to increase the price of stamps, and as more of our mail mysteriously never makes it to the final destination, FDA's Tobacco Control Act (TCA) and BATF's Prevent all Cigarette Trafficking Act (PACT) continue to fight to keep all tobacco (including Swedish Snus but not Cigars) from being shipped via USPS. Did anyone at the Congressional Budget Office run the numbers to see how massive the amount of revenue this ban is costing the US postal service? It seems that cigarette and smokeless tobacco smuggling terrorists only use the USPS: they have never heard of UPS, FedEx, DHL, or even U-Haul.
Frankly, with the huge spike in missing (stolen) packages, gift cards, and credit cards that began in June and still continues, I don't think I would trust the USPS with delivering my snus orders anymore even if the ban were repealed. At a minimum, I would pay extra for their tracking number service but that might not deter all the thieves.
While the PACT Act has been getting most of attention in the tobacco world this month, the Tobacco Control Act which goes into effect Jun 22, 2010 is far and away the greater danger. While the PACT Act will slash Internet availability of all tobacco products including Real Swedish snus and will cause significant price increases, these products will at least still remain available for those of the legal age and means to purchase them.
The Tobacco Act, which falls under FDA, is more insidious. Through a series of advisories and opinions, FDA seems bent on make all tobacco products so unpalatable and nicotine-poor as to be useless. FDA issues so-called Draft Guidance documents which give a clear look at how FDA intends to interpret the Tobacco Act; often far beyond the language of the law itself.
Once again, consumers pay the price in punitive tobacco taxation. In light of the high tobacco taxes, the price of Swedish snus has increased during the last few years. Monday, June 7th 2010, the leading snus manufacturer in Sweden, Swedish Match, will raise its prices an additional 4 percent, Henrik Brehmer, Senior Vice President Corporate Communications, says. This time, the raise is due to an increase in the price of raw materials.
EU Member of Parliament Christofer Fjellner, representing Moderaterna, sees a potential risk of more people taking up smoking as the price of snus goes up. "It would be wrong for the price of snuff to be higher than that of cigarettes", Fjellner says. The last time this occurred, cigarette use, which is only at 11% currently in Sweden, jumped dramatically.
Competitor to Swedish Match, Granit, increased its prices with SEK 2.00 recently and manufacturer Skruf will during the summer decrease the amount of snus per portion from 24 g to 22 g. None of the snus consumers asked in the article think the price increase will affect their habits significantly. Jon Mether from Eslöv is too hooked on snus to not buy it, he says.
The Big Government Bell will toll three times for Americans in the next three weeks. The first was today with the manufacturer price increases/snus decreases mentioned above. On June 22nd 2010, the smokeless tobacco component of The Tobacco Control Act will take affect. Snus Manufacturers who have not registered with FDA and supplied ingredients/process information will no longer be allowed to have their snus products sold in or into the United States. As of today, the most high profile of these is skruf AB, manufacturers of the popular skruf and Knox Swedish snus brands.
On July 1st, 2010 the infamous PACT Act will go into effect. PACT will prohibit all tobacco deliveries (except cigars) via the United States Postal Service. The other common carriers such as UPS, DHL, and FedEx will have the option of choosing to deliver tobacco products or not without penalty. All packages must be identified as tobacco products, must state that all Federal, State, and Local taxes were collected at time of sale, and require a delivery receipt signature from a person of legal age to purchase tobacco products.
For Americans, this will mean a very large increase in the price of snus and other tobacco products and a reduced selection; especially of Swedish snus.
From Wire Services and SnusCENTRAL Staff
BREAKING SNUS NEWS....................
The SnusCENTRAL Intelligence Agency office in Stockholm just wired critical information concerning yesterday's rumors of an increase in the wholesale price of Swedish Snus. The source of the rumors had proven unreliable in the past so the snusing public both in the United States and abroad was taking in the information with a health dose of skepticism. Unfortunately the old adage about a broken clock showing the correct time twice a day turned out to be true: Price increases are coming and soon.
Hysteria has also been growing as to the the future availability (or lack thereof) of skruf Snus in the United States after June 22nd. We now have an answer. Combine all this with The Tobacco Control Act kicking in on snus and smokeless tobacco June 22nd 2010, The PACT Act kicking in on July 1st banning US postal delivery of all tobacco products (except cigars...for now), severe restrictions on delivery of tobacco products in general, the addition of sales and often insane State tobacco taxes... this is not a happy day for Real Snus users and those who want to be across America.
All the manufacturers are being somewhat tight-lipped at this point. While the SnusCIA has officially never been involved in water-boarding or other non-conventional forms of interrogation, they have already smuggled a small quantity of Marlboro Snus into Sweden. Since force-feeding Swedes American pseudo-snus is not specifically addressed by the Geneva Convention (yet), we hope to have more complete information in the days ahead.
Yes, it does. It will make my snus and snuff more expensive. It will cause me to pay more for shipping, not to mention having to meet the driver of the Big Brown Truck (BBT) to sign for the stuff and prove I’m over 18. (A blind man could see I’m way over 18) The PACT act has and will cost friends of mine their jobs and businesses. The PACT Act has endangered storage space in my freezer. This in turn has endangered my happiness since Mrs.Mick guards her freezer space jealously.As bad as PACT is, in the final analysis it’s probably more bark than bite. I will still be able to get all my favorite snus. So will you.
As I write this, we are less than a week away from May 2010. Swedish Snus users in America (or Amerika, as it has now become) are smiling, laughing, and enjoying our snus bravely. Behind the frozen smiles, we frantically order mass quantities of our favorite snuses and discuss home snus making techniques before The PACT Act kicks in June 30th. Or maybe it's July 1st. Since the Presidential bill signing of PACT was kept so quiet, I'm really not sure when the 90 day period is over.Meanwhile, FDA keeps making the rules up as they go concerning The Tobacco Act. Uncertainty prevails. While some huge Swedish Snus manufacturers seem paralyzed by lawyers and indecision, sleeping giants are awakening and may stomp into the US Market as early as this year or 2011.
One of the best kept secrets in America yesterday was that President Obama; our Smoker-in-Chief, had signed the infamous PACT Act; Prevent All Cigarette Trafficking Act, into law. Convenience Store news broke the story as best I can tell.
Google searches this morning revealed practically nothing. There was a press release on ReadMEDIA.com with some ancillary articles praising the New York Congressional delegation for forcing PACT onto America tobacco users and bludgeoning that uppity Seneca Nation in the process. New York State hates the Seneca Nation and has lusted for their casino and tobacco money for decades. I guess buying Manhattan for $26 in beads wasn't good enough for New York.
The rest were blog posts basically repeating that PACT was now law,quotes from the legislation, and more obligatory mentions of "the children".
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