Tobacco company owes states $285 million

Chris Rizo Jan. 21, 2010, 6:42pm

(Legal Newsline)-General Tobacco products is on its way to being barred from selling its cigarette products in 18 states over its failure to make payments under the multistate Master Settlement Agreement.

Vibo Corporation Inc., which does business as General Tobacco, is based in Mayodan, N.C. Its cigarette brands include Bronco, Champion, GT, Silver and 32⁰.

The company owes the states approximately $284.5 million.

The states owed are: Arizona, California, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Massachusetts, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont and Washington.

In Missouri, General Tobacco's wholesalers and retailers have been told that if they owe the company money for purchases to instead send payment to the state.

The Washington attorney general's office said retailers and wholesalers in the Evergreen State who have existing stamped cigarettes manufactured by General Tobacco may continue to sell them through Feb. 19.

After that date, they must remove any remaining inventory from their shelves. The stamps signify that taxes have already been collected on the product.

The date General Tobacco's products can no longer be sold on shelves varies depending on state.

The Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement, reached in 1998 between tobacco companies and 46 states and six U.S. territories, was intended to settle lawsuits that states had filed to recover government costs associated with people who became ill from smoking or tobacco-related illnesses.

The settlement agreement was reached originally by the nation's four largest tobacco companies: Philip Morris USA, R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corp., and Lorillard Tobacco Company. More than 40 other tobacco companies later joined the agreement.

From Legal Newsline: Reach staff reporter Chris Rizo at

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