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Philip Morris USA Sues New York and New Jersey Retailers Selling Counterfeit Cigarettes

RICHMOND, Va. — Philip Morris USA (PM USA) filed lawsuits March 1 against eight retailers for selling counterfeit versions of the company’s Marlboro brand cigarettes in New York and New Jersey. These lawsuits are part of the company’s ongoing efforts to stop the sale of counterfeit cigarettes and the unauthorized use of PM USA’s trademarks.

“These lawsuits highlight that counterfeit cigarette traffickers continue to operate in the New York metropolitan area,” said Joe Murillo, vice president and associate general counsel, Altria Client Services, speaking on behalf of PM USA. “This illegal activity hurts legitimate wholesale and retail businesses and for a number of reasons, including high cigarette excise taxes and New York State’s lack of effective cigarette excise tax enforcement, the New York metropolitan area is particularly vulnerable to this activity.”

According to PM USA:

The high cigarette excise taxes levied in New York and New Jersey provide counterfeit cigarette traffickers with the opportunity to make substantial illegal profits. Counterfeit cigarettes are almost always sold without the appropriate federal and state excise tax. The counterfeit cigarettes purchased from the retailers named in today’s suit bore no tax stamp or a counterfeit tax stamp. As a result, the applicable excise taxes were not paid.

PM USA continues to advocate for comprehensive solutions to New York’s complex counterfeit and contraband cigarette issues, including enactment of a law that would impose a deadline on the Department of Tax and Finance to begin tax collection on cigarettes sold to non-tribal members through Native American reservation outlets.

"Including the lawsuits file today, PM USA has filed lawsuits against 35 retailers in New York and New Jersey since May 2009 for selling counterfeit Marlboro® brand cigarettes,” said Murillo. “Counterfeit cigarette sales undermine the value of PM USA’s trademarks and we will take the steps necessary to protect our brands,” added Murillo.

Philip Morris USA is an operating company of Altria Group Inc. More information on PM USA and its policies and positions on tobacco issues is available at