General Tobacco to be Extinguished

MAYODAN, N.C. -- General Tobacco, maker of low-priced cigarette brands such as Bronco, Silver and GT One, plans to shut down after failing to make Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) payments it owed to states, the New York Post reported.

General Tobacco stopped producing cigarettes and other tobacco products at its North Carolina plant several months ago, and is winding down its operations, J. Ronald Denman, executive vice president and general counsel, told the paper.

The company, which was the sixth-largest US tobacco company, recently began selling off inventory in foreign markets.

The cigarette maker gained market share from larger rivals after it began selling cigarettes in 2000, and posted annual sales as high as $335 million, the newspaper reported. But U.S. market share fell to less than 1 percent, from almost 2 percent, in recent years, due to increased competition from other discounters, such as Vector Group Ltd.'s Liggett Vector Brands Inc.

CSNews Online reported in January of this year that General Tobacco products were de-listed from 18 states after the company reportedly failed to make its required payments under the MSA. General Tobacco argued the allegations in court, stating that any amount it owed to the states is far less than what the states argue, and that the company is entitled to apply more than $95 million owed to the company in credits under the MSA toward any payment due.

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