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Bob G.
Republican VA 6

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  • Stop Tobacco Smuggling in the Territories Act of 2013

    by Representative Bob Goodlatte

    Posted on 2013-03-05

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    GOODLATTE. Mr. Speaker, I move to suspend the rules and pass the bill (H.R. 338) to amend title 18, United States Code, to include certain territories and possessions of the United States in the definition of State for the purposes of chapter 114, relating to trafficking in contraband cigarettes and smokeless tobacco.



    The Clerk read the title of the bill.

    The text of the bill is as follows: H.R. 338 Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

    This Act may be cited as the ``Stop Tobacco Smuggling in the Territories Act of 2013''.

    SEC. 2. TERRITORIES AND POSSESSIONS OF THE UNITED STATES INCLUDED IN THE DEFINITION OF STATE FOR THE PURPOSES OF THE PROHIBITION AGAINST TRAFFICKING IN CONTRABAND CIGARETTES AND SMOKELESS TOBACCO.

    Paragraph (4) of section 2341 of title 18, United States Code, is amended by striking ``or the Virgin Islands'' and inserting ``the Virgin Islands, American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, or Guam''.

    The SPEAKER pro tempore (Mr. Messer). Pursuant to the rule, the gentleman from Virginia (Mr. Goodlatte) and the gentleman from Virginia (Mr. Scott) each will control 20 minutes.

    The Chair recognizes the gentleman from Virginia (Mr. Goodlatte).

    General Leave Mr. GOODLATTE. Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that all Members may have 5 legislative days within which to revise and extend their remarks and include extraneous materials on H.R. 338, currently under consideration.

    The SPEAKER pro tempore. Is there objection to the request of the gentleman from Virginia? There was no objection.

    {time} 1330 Mr. GOODLATTE. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

    Cigarette trafficking is a very lucrative crime both here in the United States and abroad. It is estimated that illicit cigarettes account for over 10 percent of the more than 5.7 trillion cigarettes sold globally each year. Here in the United States alone, approximately 4 billion of the cigarettes sold each year are illicit.

    Cigarette smuggling is generally carried out by large criminal organizations that take advantage of the significant disparity between the taxes levied on cigarettes across the States. These differences create a highly lucrative market for individuals to evade State and local sales taxes by purchasing cigarettes in one locality and transporting them to another for resale below market value. It is estimated that criminals can make a profit of as much as $1 million on just a single truckload of illicit cigarettes.

    Cigarette smuggling is not just profitable for criminal networks; this crime also harms State and Federal revenues. According to the Justice Department, this illicit activity costs the States and the Federal Government an estimated $5 billion each year. This is money that could and should be put to better use.

    In 2009, Congress took steps to curb contraband cigarettes with the Prevent All Cigarette Trafficking, or PACT, Act. The PACT Act prohibits the sale of cigarettes and other tobacco products over the Internet and made changes to the criminal anticigarette smuggling statutes.

    H.R. 338, the Stop Tobacco Smuggling in the Territories Act of 2013, provides a technical correction to ensure that the criminal prohibitions against cigarette smuggling apply to the U.S. territories of American Samoa, Guam, and the Northern Mariana Islands just as they do in the rest of the country. Without this fix, cigarettes sold in these territories without evidence that taxes were paid do not fall within the definition of ``contraband cigarettes.'' This is a modest but important change that will help to discourage crime and increase tax revenues in these United States territories.

    I want to thank Mr. Faleomavaega for his work on this issue, as well as the ranking member on the full committee and the subcommittee for their support of this effort, and the chairman of the Crime Subcommittee, Mr. Sensenbrenner, as well, and I urge my colleagues to join me in support of this bill.

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