Court Upholds Maine's Tobacco Licensing Statue

February 10, 2009

For Immediate Release February 10, 2009

Contact: Jennifer Willis, Assistant Attorney General, 207-626-8494

Court Upholds Maine?s Tobacco Licensing Statute

Today, Maine?s highest court issued a decision upholding Maine?s retail licensing statute that requires all retailers who sell tobacco products directly to consumers to obtain a retail license from the State. The retailer challenging the statute is a member of the Seneca Nation whose place of business is on a reservation in New York. The retailer argued that he was not required to obtain a retail license, even though he had made many sales to Maine consumers through mail-order and online transactions, because the sales took place on the reservation.

The Court disagreed, holding that the sales took place in Maine and were subject to Maine?s licensing requirements because the retailer reached off the reservation by accepting orders and sending cigarettes to consumers in Maine who are off the reservation.

?This is an important win for the State because Maine?s retail licensing statute is an essential safeguard against the unregulated sale of cigarettes to Maine consumers,? said Maine Attorney General Janet Mills. ?Without this sort of regulation of tobacco sellers, Maine has no enforceable way to track the types of tobacco products coming into our state and no way to effectively prevent the sale of tobacco products to our youth.?

Maine?s retail licensing statute requires all retailers to obtain a license if the retailer sells tobacco products directly to Maine consumers even if the transaction occurs over the Internet, by telephone or through mail-order. The licensing statute also has reporting requirements that allow the State to ensure compliance with all the legal requirements regarding the sale of tobacco products in Maine, including age verification requirements and limitations on the types of products that can be sold.