UPS will stop delivering cigarettes to individuals in the United States under an agreement announced with New York state Attorney General Eliot Spitzer.
The agreement is the latest in federal and state efforts to combat the sale of under-taxed cigarettes and to fight underage smoking. Most under-taxed or untaxed cigarettes are sold by Indian tribes, where the taxation of sales to non-Indians is disputed.
Spitzer said the agreement leaves only the US Postal Service among major carriers to continue to deliver cigarettes to individuals. He called that practice "an embarrassment."
Spitzer spokesman Marc Violette said the attorney general continues to negotiate with Federal Express, but they are thought to handle a small amount of the trade.
Despite a new policy adopted by the Postal Service in September to refuse delivery of illegal products, Spitzer said the federal service allows employees to accept packages suspected of containing under-taxed cigarettes.
Postal Service spokesman Gerry McKiernan said the agency can't stop delivery even if it suspects a package clearly marked as coming from a retailer contains untaxed cigarettes, because there could be other items in the package. McKiernan said the Postal Service will watch for packages if advised by law enforcement agencies. They also will alert law enforcement agencies when the service is shipping those packages.