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Seneca Chief Charges Congress Is Mistaken By Taxing Indian Cigarette Sales

Seneca Nation President Snyder Predicts Significant Regional Hardships With PACT Act


Violates Tribal Sovereignty, Harms Western New York Economy

CATTARAUGUS TERRITORY, N.Y., -- Seneca Nation President Barry E. Snyder said today that Senate Judiciary Committee members have overreacted by approving S. 1147, the Prevent All Cigarette Trafficking Act (PACT Act). If the PACT Act becomes law, there will be significant economic harm to the Seneca Nation, its members, member enterprises and the Western New York Economy.

"At a time of record unemployment in Western New York, Phillip Morris and the Senate Judiciary Committee, acting as this holiday's Grinch, voted to steal 1,000 jobs from our Nation and the Western New York community," said Snyder. "And this all comes just days after I heard how President Obama wants to help Indian country during American Indian Heritage Month. To be clear, the PACT ACT is about a big corporation using the federal government to line its pockets by increasing its market share."

The Seneca Nation has long fought both state and federal lawmaker's attempts to collect taxes on tobacco and gasoline products sold by the Senecas and other Indian nations. According to Snyder, the PACT Act is a direct contradiction of President Obama's statement to "reverse the U.S. government's history of marginalizing and ignoring the plight of Indian nations."

President Snyder recently concluded a day long meeting with President Obama and other national tribal leaders who participated in a first-of-its-kind national Indian Nations conference. President Obama said he understood that it took an "extraordinary leap of faith" for the tribal representatives to come to Washington, given the government's history of reneging on agreements with the Indian population.

The Nation has a vibrant economy based on the tobacco trade. If the PACT Act becomes law, it will prevent all cigarettes from being mailed. This could result in up to a 65 percent loss in Import/Export revenue to the Nation -- which funds Nation health and education programs -- as well as a loss of roughly 1,000 Native and non-Native jobs.

The Nation has a state-of-the-art stamping and enforcement mechanism that ensures compliance with a rigorous set of internal regulations, including retailer authorization, minimum pricing and a ban on sales to minors. The Nation works in close partnership with the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms Enforcement (ATF).

"We agree with the fundamental goals reflected by the PACT Act, that no one should be engaged in illegal cigarette smuggling. But cigarettes are a lawful product and this PACT Act is nothing but a money grab by Philip Morris to destroy legitimate, treaty-sanctioned American Indian commerce," said Snyder. "Senators supporting the PACT Act, especially the New York Senators, should ask themselves why are they letting Philip Morris take jobs and money from the Seneca Nation and the Western New York economy?"

Contact: Susan Asquith
Travers Collins - 716.464.4703

STORY TAGS: seneca, chief, congress, indian, cigarette, sales, tax, native, american, nation, president, barry snyder, pact, act, economy, minority, news

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