No Credit Cards for Web Tobacco Sales

From Associated Press

Major credit card companies will no longer handle Internet sales of cigarettes under a nationwide agreement announced Thursday.

The accord, which is effective immediately, is aimed at illegal dealers who try to avoid sales taxes or sell to underage customers.

Virtually all credit card companies signed off on the agreement with officials of 10 states and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, which is effective immediately.


Smokers would still be able to buy cigarettes over the Internet but not with their credit cards, including Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Discover. Instead, they would have to use checks, money orders or some other payment system that would probably hold up delivery.

The long-unchecked practice of buying cigarettes and chewing tobacco over the Internet across state lines is illegal in many states, but enforcement has been difficult.

The ATF estimates that millions of dollars from illegal cigarette sales are diverted each year to terrorists and criminal organizations. “We welcome the help,” said Michael Bouchard, the bureau’s assistant director for field operations.

The negotiations were led by the attorneys general of New York, California and Oregon, and joined by those from Colorado, Idaho, Louisiana, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Vermont and Wisconsin.