NEW YORK (AP) _ The nation’s third largest cigarette maker is suing the state of New York over a new law banning the sale of cigarettes over the Internet.
In a lawsuit filed last week in federal court, Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corp. alleges the law interferes with interstate commerce, and accuses the state of engaging in ``impermissible economic protectionism at its most flagrant.″
The law _ which also prohibits mail-order and telephone sales of cigarettes _ was passed earlier this year and is scheduled to go into effect next month.
Legislators argued that Internet sales would make it easier for children to get cigarettes and for smokers to dodge the sales tax.
``This law is an important public health measure that will help save lives by preventing young people from obtaining cigarettes illegally,″ Joseph Conway, a spokesman for Gov. George Pataki, said Monday. ``We’re confident that the law is constitutional and that the lawsuit will be unsuccessful.″
Brown & Williamson attorney David Remes said the case is the first of its kind in the country and has implications beyond tobacco.
``If all 50 states try to dictate their own rules for e-commerce, it will be difficult for e-commerce to flourish,″ Remes said.
Brown & Williamson, the maker of Kool and Lucky Strike cigarettes, is forming a subsidiary to sell less popular brands like Tareyton and Carlton over the Internet. The Louisville, Ky., company said it will use rigorous procedures to prevent sales to minors and will collect all taxes.