shipping cigarettes directly to consumers (Kempner 2005), on the grounds that it was not able to inspect mail without a search warrant and that it would be impractical for postal clerks to decide which packages to accept or reject (Cooper 2005). In June 2005, after these failed negotiations with the U.S. Postal Service, Rep. John McHugh of New York introduced legislation that would forbid carriers from transporting cigarettes and other tobacco products and would impose a $100,000 fine for each violation (Ovarian Cancer Research and Information Amendments of 1993. H.R. 2810, 103rd Congress, 1993).
In the committee’s view, given the difficulty of policing Internet tobacco transactions and constitutional barriers to additional, state-imposed delivery requirements, the only practical way to effectively regulate online tobacco retailers is through legislation prohibiting both online tobacco sales and shipment of tobacco products directly to consumers. This approach is supported not only by the states’ interests in reducing sales to youth and facilitating excise tax collections, but also by the states’ more general interest in reducing the convenience of tobacco purchases and thereby reducing consumption (see discussion of the goal of transforming the retail tobacco market in Chapter 6). Statutes restricting direct shipment of alcoholic beverages provide a precedent for such legislation, as most states either explicitly prohibit direct shipment of alcoholic beverages to consumers or do so practically by requiring that all transactions for alcoholic beverages take place within the state’s licensed distribution system (see Kinney, Appendix I). Under a similar legislative scheme, shipment of tobacco products would be restricted to licensed wholesale or retail outlets, and consumers would be permitted to purchase these products only in face-to-face transactions in licensed retail settings.
Recommendation 12: All states should ban the sale and shipment of tobacco products directly to consumers through mail order or the Internet or other electronic systems. Shipments of tobacco products should be permitted only to licensed wholesale or retail outlets.
The most fully developed programs for preventing tobacco use by youth have been implemented in school settings. School-based programs will remain the mainstay of group-oriented or individually-oriented prevention activities. The committee also believes, however, that investing in programs for families and health care providers is warranted, even though the evidence base remains thin. Support for these efforts should be augmented as the evidence base develops.