The United States Postal Service: An Insight Into Its Operations

The United States Postal Service (USPS) traces its roots to 1775 during the Second Continental Congress, when Benjamin Franklin was appointed the first postmaster general. The cabinet-level Department of the Post Office was established in 1792 from Franklin’s operation and transformed into its current state in 1971 under the Postal Reorganization Act.

As an independent agency of the federal government, USPS is mandated to serve all Americans, regardless of geography, at uniform price and quality. It has tried to live up to this mandate, becoming one of the few government agencies openly authorized by the United States Constitution.

USPS plays a crucial role in the country’s communication network, delivering hundreds of millions of letters, packages, and parcels annually. Its services extend beyond mail delivery to the provision of postal products and services such as retail, banking, and insurance services. The organization prides itself in contributing significantly to the country’s history and socio-economic development.

At the heart of USPS’s services are the postal regulations, which provide a guideline for users to understand what items are mailable and those prohibited. Understanding these regulations is paramount to anyone wishing to use the USPS mailing services.

USPS Mailing Regulations

USPS has guidelines for what materials can be mailed via their services. From mailable liquids and perishables to live animals and potentially hazardous materials, the regulations are vividly outlined. USPS introduces these guidelines for the safety of the mail and those handling them throughout the transit process, as well as recipients.

One common question among USPS users pertains to cigarettes and other tobacco products. Specifically, can you mail cigarettes? Cigarette mailing regulations are quite strict due to health concerns and potential misuse. While there are a few exceptions for certain types of shipments or for certain recipients, mailing cigarettes through USPS is generally prohibited.

Mailing Cigarettes through USPS

Even though the USPS has a prohibition on mailing tobacco products, including cigarettes, cigars, smokeless tobacco, and vape juices, it is essential to understand the specific contexts in which exceptions apply. The exceptions to the mailing ban, under specific circumstances, include infrequent, lightweight shipments sent by age-verified adults to consumers of legal age, certain business purposes, and authorized purposes of federal agencies.

However, individuals and businesses must meet stringent requirements and register with USPS to send such mail. For example, packages must be approved by USPS Pricing and Classification and carry a unique marking. USPS conducts audits to ensure adherence to these terms. Penalties for violations, which can include fines, imprisonment, or both, are stipulated in the Jenkins Act of 1949 and the Prevent All Cigarette Trafficking (PACT) Act of 2009.


Understanding USPS guidelines and regulations can enhance customer experience by reducing instances of failed or delayed deliveries. Exceptions on mailing cigarettes and other tobacco products underline the sensitivity and risks associated with distributing these products among the public.

Therefore, for all questioning whether they can you mail cigarettes, the general answer is no, with very strict exceptions. While the USPS remains a massive platform facilitating communication nationwide, adhering to its rules can collectively contribute to the quality and safety of its services.