Philip Morris Sues Retailers Over Counterfeit Smokes

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Philip Morris Sues Retailers Over Counterfeit Smokes

RICHMOND, Va. -- Altria Group's Philip Morris USA (PM USA) filed lawsuits recently against 10 retailers in New York and New Jersey that allegedly sold counterfeit versions of the company's Marlboro brand cigarettes.

The retailers named in the lawsuits are:

-- Maria's Deli Grocery, Richmond Hills, N.Y.
-- Loveras Grocery, Brooklyn, N.Y.
-- Aloshe Mini Market, Bronx, N.Y.
-- El Barrio Grocery Deli, Bronx, N.Y.
-- Fernandez Grocery Corp., New York, N.Y.
-- Harlem Tobacco & Grocery, New York, N.Y.
-- Fancy Deli & Grocery Corp., Bronx, N.Y.
-- Saeed Deli Grocery, Bronx, N.Y.
-- Reyes Grocery, Newark, N.J.
-- Sunny Supermarket, Newark, N.J.

"The New York metropolitan area continues to be a lucrative market for counterfeit and contraband cigarette smugglers," said Joe Murillo, vice president and associate general counsel for Altria Client Services, speaking on behalf of PM USA. "High excise taxes, coupled with New York state's lack of effective tax enforcement, only makes the problem worse."

In addition to violating trademark laws, counterfeit cigarettes are almost always sold without the appropriate federal and state excise tax, PM USA said in a statement. The counterfeit cigarettes purchased from the retailers named in the suits had no tax stamp or counterfeit tax stamp, and as a result, the applicable excise taxes were not paid, according to the tobacco company.

"The sale of untaxed cigarettes harms legitimate wholesale and retail businesses, and costs New York and New Jersey needed tax revenues that could be used to support essential public services," added Murillo.

Since May 2009, Philip Morris has filed lawsuits against 27 retail locations in New York and New Jersey for selling counterfeit Marlboro brand cigarettes, according to the company.

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