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Philip Morris USA Sues Retailer for Counterfeit Cigarettes

RICHMOND, Va. -- Philip Morris USA (PM USA) filed a lawsuit last week against the smoke shop G.J. Smokes, located on the Poospatuck reservation in Mastic, N.Y., for allegedly selling counterfeit versions of the company's Marlboro brand cigarettes.

"G.J. Smokes is the fifth Mastic location in less than a year that we have sued for selling counterfeit product," Joe Murillo, vice president and associate general counsel, Altria Client Services, speaking in a statement on behalf of PM USA. PM USA estimates approximately 20 smoke shops operate on the reservation.

The lawsuit is part of the company's efforts to stop the sale of counterfeit cigarettes in New York and the unauthorized use of PM USA's trademarks, the company stated.

In addition, the counterfeit cigarettes purchased from G.J. Smokes bore no genuine tax stamp, and as a result, applicable excise taxes were not paid, according to PM USA.

"This underscores the need for the state of New York to end its non-enforcement policy and begin collecting the excise tax on cigarettes sold through Native American outlets," Murillo added.

The lawsuit was prompted by the purchase of counterfeit versions of Marlboro brand cigarette cartons by company agents.

PM USA also filed similar suits against four other smoke shops in Mastic, N.Y., in 2009, for selling counterfeit versions of Marlboro brand cigarettes.

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