philip morris takes retailers to court

105 vendors being sued over counterfeit cigarettes.

Philip Morris USA has filed suit against 105 New Jersey and New York retailers on charges of selling counterfeit versions of Marlboro brand cigarettes. The cigarette maker accuses retailers of all varieties–delis, grocers and convenience stores–of selling cigarettes resembling popular Philip Morris

USA products.

The company has filed three suits, and wants the retailers to stop selling the fakes, submit to inspections of their inventory and provide information about their supplier, according to Associated Press.

The counterfeit cigarettes were discovered when company officials were performing a periodic marketplace purchase, one method the company uses to protect its brand, according to spokesman David Sutton.

“These are obviously counterfeit products that were made to look like Marlboro or Marlboro Lights, for example,” Sutton told the Associated Press.Counterfeit sales have been particularly problematic in New York and New Jersey, he said.

“You’ve got two states there with high cigarette excise taxes and in the case of New York City, you’ve got a high local cigarette excise tax,” Sutton said. “This is an attempt to reap illegal profit by selling untaxed cigarettes.”

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