Sixty-Year Old State Tobacco Law Overturned

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Sixty-Year Old State Tobacco Law Overturned

BOSTON, Mass. -- A 60-year-old state law that banned retailers from selling cigarettes below cost to spark competition between rivals has been overturned by the Massachusetts Appellate Tax Board, The Boston Globe reported.

"People are going to start shopping for the lowest price cigarettes the same way they shop for anything else," said lawyer Joseph P. Fingliss after he received the decision from the board. He added, "the state has no right to set the price of tobacco products."

In recent years, the enforcement of this law has 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. Currently, the minimum price for a pack of Marlboros is $4.78, according to the report.

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

But opponents, including the Massachusetts Department of Revenue, plan to ask Attorney General Thomas F. Reilly to appeal the decision.

Fingliss and fellow lawyer Carlin Phillips are preparing a class-action lawsuit against the Revenue Department for illegally inflating the prices and taxes of cigarettes based on the minimum prices, The Boston Globe said.