Tobacco Restrictions

 

With few exceptions, cigarettes and smokeless tobacco shipments cannot be mailed. This applies to domestic shipments, as well as inbound and outbound international shipments. Cigars are still mailable domestically, as well as internationally, unless prohibited by the destination country.

Qualifying exceptions include…

  • Alaska/Hawaii - Shipments entirely within Alaska or Hawaii.
  • Business/Regulatory Purposes - Shipments between verified and authorized tobacco industry businesses for business purposes, or between such businesses and federal or state agencies for regulatory purposes.
  • Certain Age-Verified Individuals - Infrequent, lightweight shipments mailed by age-verified adults.
  • Consumer/Public Health Testing - Shipments of cigarettes sent by verified and authorized manufacturers to verified adults 21 years of age or older for consumer testing purposes, and shipments sent by federal agencies to consumers for public health purposes.

Why
These rules resulted from the enactment of the Prevent All Cigarette Trafficking (PACT) Act, which was signed by the President on March 31, 2010. The Act provided that cigarettes and smokeless tobacco became nonmailable matter effective June 29, 2010.

When
A final rule to implement these changes was published in the Federal Register on May 27, 2010. The final rule was effective on June 29, 2010.

Key elements of the final rule include…

  • Cigarettes and smokeless tobacco are prohibited in both inbound and outbound international mail.
  • Cigarettes and smokeless tobacco are nonmailable in domestic mail, unless an exception applies.
  • All excepted shipments must be presented in face-to-face transactions with postal employees. So shipments with labels created using USPS.com® or Click-N-Ship for Business® can’t be put in a mailbox or left out for Package Pickup—they still need to be presented at a Post Office™. If you are creating a postage label on USPS.com or Click-N-Ship for Business, please bring your package to a Post Office (excluding any contract retail unit).
  • All excepted shipments of cigarettes must bear a unique marking on the address side of the package. Each exception has its own marking.
  • With the exception of shipments entirely within Alaska and Hawaii and to APO/FPO/DPO addresses, all excepted shipments of cigarettes and smokeless tobacco must be sent via the following options:
  1. Priority Mail Express™ Hold For Pickup
  2. Priority Mail Express with Adult Signature Required or Adult Signature Restricted Delivery extra service (Adult Signature Restricted Delivery only for the "Consumer Testing" exception). Available for online and commercial customers only; however, shipment must be presented to a USPS® employee at a Post Office™.
  3. Priority Mail® with Adult Signature Required or Adult Signature Restricted Delivery extra service (Adult Signature Restricted Delivery only for the “Consumer Testing” exception). Available for online and commercial customers only; however, shipment must be presented to a USPS® employee at a Post Office.
  • Certain restrictions apply to shipments from the United States to APO/FPO/DPO addresses, check the Postal Bulletin for tobacco restrictions, which apply to certain ZIP Codes™, and confirm with postal employees that Priority Mail Express and Priority Mail with USPS Tracking™ is available to the destination.
  • When permitted, shipments of cigarettes and smokeless tobacco to APO/FPO/DPO addresses customers must use Priority Mail Express Military Service (PMEMS) or Priority Mail with USPS Tracking; Priority Mail Express Hold For Pickup Service and Adult Signature Extra Services are not available.
  • Other than shipments entirely within Alaska or Hawaii, absolutely no sales transactions of cigarettes or smokeless tobacco may be sent by mail.
  • Business/government customers sending shipments under the "Business/Regulatory" and "Consumer/Public Health Testing" exceptions must first apply for and receive an eligibility letter from the USPS Pricing & Classification Service Center (PCSC)™ prior to mailing. This letter must be presented each time an expected mailing is presented to postal employees at acceptance.
  • Excepted shipments sent by business/government customers under the "Business/Regulatory" and "Consumer/Public Health Testing" exceptions must bear a Return Receipt (PS Form 3811) returnable to the PCSC PACT Mailing Office.
  • Delivery of cigarettes mailed under the "Consumer/Public Health Testing" exception is restricted to the addressee, who must be at least 21 years of age.
  • Individuals sending shipments under the "Certain Age-Verified Individuals" exception must furnish proof of age at the time of mailing and must orally confirm that the addressee is of age to purchase tobacco at the place of destination. In the case of all mailings by individuals, the operative legal age to purchase tobacco is age 18 in all states and U.S. territories and possessions, with the exception that the minimum age is 19 in the states of Alaska, Alabama, New Jersey, and Utah, and in Nassau, Onondaga, and Suffolk counties in New York.
  • Shipments sent under the "Certain Age-Verified Individuals" exception must be infrequent (no more than 10 shipments in any 30-day period) and weigh 10 oz or less; however, no special weight limits apply to shipments entirely within Alaska and Hawaii.

Note: these rules do not apply to cigars, which continue to be mailable matter.