For Immediate Release
August 18, 2009
Assistant Attorney General David Rienzo
Acting Attorney General Orville "Bud" Fitch announced today that the State of New Hampshire has filed an action in Merrimack County Superior Court asking the court to declare that Tobacco Haven is a tobacco products manufacturer and is subject to the requirements of New Hampshire's Non-Participating Manufacturers Act, RSA 541-C, and the Directory Act, RSA 541-D. The State is also asking the court to order Tobacco Haven, and its owner, Joseph Correia, Jr., to halt the production of cigarettes until such time as Tobacco Haven comes into compliance with the statutes.
RSA 541-C and 541-D were enacted as part of the tobacco Master Settlement Agreement of 1998 (the "MSA"). In part, the MSA was designed to hold tobacco manufacturers responsible for the costs paid by the State for its Medicaid expenses in treating patients suffering from tobacco-related illnesses. As a result of the MSA, the manufacturers who have signed the MSA are required to pay the State approximately 50 million dollars annually.
RSA 541-C requires that all tobacco product manufacturers either join in the MSA and make the required payments or establish an escrow account and pay a set amount into that account based upon the number of cigarettes the manufacturer sells in New Hampshire.
Tobacco Haven is a retail tobacco shop in Brookline, New Hampshire. The State alleges that Tobacco Haven has recently installed commercial cigarette-making machines in the store. Consumers are sold loose tobacco and other cigarette components, and then the consumers are directed to the machines and instructed on how to operate the machines.
According to the State, Tobacco Haven is acting as a manufacturer and must either join the MSA or establish the escrow account required by RSA 541-C.
"The MSA protects New Hampshire's citizens who fund Medicaid through their taxes by making tobacco companies pay for the harm their products cause, and the law requires those manufacturers who do not participate in the MSA to bear their fair share of the burden as well," Acting Attorney General Fitch said. "The State will not tolerate an attempt by a cigarette manufacturer to shift its responsibility onto the citizens of New Hampshire."
New Hampshire Department of Justice | 33 Capitol Street | Concord, NH | 03301