Court Upholds NY Ban on Direct Cigarette Sales

A federal appeals court ruled last week that a New York state law prohibiting cigarette sales via the Internet, through mail order and online was legal, overturning a lower court decision.

A three-judge panel of the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the law did not discriminate against interstate commerce, according to wire reports. The New York law was enacted in June 2000 but never took effect when Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corp., Louisville, KY, filed a lawsuit in October 2000.

The company charged that the law interfered with the company’s plans for a multimillion-dollar catalog campaign to market its cigarette brands. Brown & Williamson formed a subsidiary, BWT Direct, in 2000 to sell cigarettes by direct marketing.

U.S. District Court Judge Loretta A. Preska ruled in June 2001 that New York’s ban on direct sales of cigarettes interfered with interstate commerce and was unconstitutional.

Brown & Williamson had not decided whether it would appeal the decision, The Associated Press reported last week.

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