[NOTE: This entry has been updated (2) as of 3:55 PM Eastern on 23 Nov. See below.]
The U.S. government has taken its next calculated step on the road to the total prohibition of tobacco and all tobacco products. No longer can one order cigarettes or cigarette rolling tobacco either via the Web or via telephone, nor can one receive either of those two products via any public carrier including the U.S. mail. If one wants to purchase either of those products, one must physically visit a bricks-and-mortar store, and purchase them over the counter. For us, that means no more can we roll our own cigarettes as has been our practice for the past twenty years or so, as no bricks-and-mortar outlet for cigarette rolling tobacco exists within our area, and so we'll be forced to begin using ready-mades again — at $80 per carton of ten packs of twenty cigarettes each. The rolling tobacco for that same number of cigarettes (a single 150 gram tin) was lately costing us $25, and before the new federal tax on cigarette tobacco went into effect last year, a mere $10. We're so enraged by these selectively punitive measures taken by the feds, we're pretty much ready to break out the ol' Uzi and start firing away. Problem is, we don't know where to begin aiming the bloody thing as the targets are ubiquitous and legion. Nothing to do, then, but suffer in smoldering, impotent silence.
Update (9:45 AM Eastern on 15 Aug): We downloaded this morning a PDF of the actual legislation (titled, "Prevent All Cigarette Trafficking Act of 2009" or "PACT Act") referred to above, and read the whole bloody thing (not a particularly pleasant way to spend a Sunday morning). It seems our online tobacco seller of some ten years gave us some really bad information. Turns out, this act's purpose is NOT to restrict what the act calls "delivery sales" of cigarettes (and the act defines cigarette rolling tobacco as cigarettes for the purpose of the act), but to make certain that the seller pays all local and state taxes on those sales when shipped out of state. While it's true that the act bans shipping cigarettes to consumers out of state through the USPS, it does NOT ban shipping cigarettes to out of state consumers via carriers such as FedEx and UPS, and so, for all consumers, buying cigarettes online or by telephone is just as free now as it's always been. After discovering this, we were so pissed at our regular online seller for his unbelievable stupidity (although to be completely fair about it, he wasn't the only online tobacco seller to get it wrong; we ran into three or four online sellers that got it wrong in just the same way) that, without informing him of his misunderstanding of the act, we simply looked for another online seller of rolling tobacco that actually knew what the act entailed, and made our purchase from him with no problem at all. So, false alarm — and a huge relief.
Update 2 (3:55 PM Eastern on 23 Nov): Bad news. We've just been informed that a ruling by the enforcement arm of the federal government (the FTC) has ruled that the PACT act effectively prohibits sale of cigarettes — which definition includes cigarette rolling tobacco — by any means except face-to-face, over-the-counter sales. Period. Full stop. That means that the original text of this post stands, the information contained in our first update is null and void, and smokers such as ourself are screwed — royally. Fascist pigs!