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About Ellen F. Rosenblum
Attorney General Hardy Myers today announced that Philip Morris USA has adopted protocols aimed at combating the illegal sale of Philip Morris cigarettes over the Internet and through the mail. The protocols are being adopted voluntarily by Philip Morris pursuant to an agreement reached with 34 Attorneys General across the country including Myers.
The protocols provide for product shipment reduction or termination for Philip Morris direct customers and incentive program retailers found by any of the Attorney Generals to be directly or indirectly involved in illegal Internet and mail order sales.
Virtually all Internet sales of cigarettes into Oregon are illegal because sellers fail to comply with state and federal laws regulating the direct shipment of cigarettes to consumers.
Further, while "brick-and-mortar" retailers check photo IDs to prevent children from buying cigarettes, the vast majority of Internet sellers fail to conduct adequate age verification for purchasers. Numerous studies have shown that the earlier an individual begins to smoke, the more likely it is that the person will become addicted, and thus age verification through photo IDs is essential to protect children from a lifetime of smoking.
Today's agreement is the third major development in the Attorney General's three-pronged approach to halting illegal Internet cigarettes sales by restricting the payment, shipment and supply operations of the illegal Internet cigarette traffickers. At a March 2005 meeting led in part by Myers, all major credit card companies and PayPal agreed to stop processing credit card payments for the Internet retailers. Later in the year, both DHL and UPS agreed to stop shipping packages for the vendors engaged in these illegal sales.
"I commend Philip Morris for its cooperation in the effort to reduce these illegal sales," Myers said. "It's now time for the other tobacco manufacturers to follow this lead and join in the fight to keep cigarettes from being unlawfully sold on the internet."
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