Discounters Contest Minimum Price

Photo: Tobacco Reporter archive

Liggett Group, Vector Tobacco and Xcaliber International, together with a Colorado citizen and cigarette smoker, have filed a motion for a preliminary injunction against the State of Colorado in a United States Federal Court. The motion seeks to enjoin Colorado from enforcing the recently enacted Colorado minimum cigarette price requirement, which would raise retail cigarette prices for Colorado consumers to premium brand levels.

The motion alleges that the requirement was inserted into a cigarette tax increase bill solely to secure support for the bill from Philip Morris, the largest U.S. seller of premium cigarettes. The motion also alleges that the minimum price requirement violates the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution by favoring Colorado retailers’ in-state economic interests over the interests of out-of-state discount manufacturers.

Further, the complaint alleges that the minimum price requirement was not properly disclosed to Colorado voters who approved the bill on Election Day. “Voters believed that the tax increases would benefit education and other public purposes, when in fact all of the benefit of the minimum price provision will go to retailers, Philip Morris and other premium cigarette manufacturers, and none to the State of Colorado,” the plaintiffs wrote in a statement.