Mass. Government Fights Appeal on Minimum Pricing

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Mass. Government Fights Appeal on Minimum Pricing

BOSTON -- The Massachusetts Department of Revenue plans to fight the appeal of a 60-year-old law covering the minimum price regulations for cigarette sales. With the challenge, the department told the Telegram & Gazette that any store found in violation of the minimum prices will be penalized.

"Stores that ignore the minimum price on cigarettes will be subject to penalties," said state revenue commissioner Alan LeBovidge in a written statement. Penalties include a five-day suspension of the stores' license to sell cigarettes.

CSNews Online reported on July 14 that the law created a pricing floor for cigarettes. When the minimum price for every brand of cigarettes was established in 2003, retailers were forced to raise the price an additional 90 cents.

In the appeal, the Appellate Tax Board said enforcements were arbitrary, unconstitutional and not in compliance with the state laws prohibiting the sale of cigarettes below cost. The department added that cigarette price regulations were "invalid and of no legal effect."

New Bedford, Mass. convenience store operator Expedito Duarte challenged the law in June when his license to sell cigarettes was suspended after he was found in violation of the minimum pricing law, the Telegram & Gazette reported.