Judge Won't Block Internet Cigarette Ban
BUFFALO, N.Y. - A judge refused Monday to temporarily block the state's ban on Internet cigarette sales while several online retailers challenge the law in court.
The law, passed in 2000 but not enforced until last week, prohibits Internet and mail-order sales of cigarettes to private individuals in the state who are not licensed by New York to receive them.
Attorneys for the state said the law, passed as a public health statute, is intended to keep cigarettes out of the hands of children.
Opponents claim its true purpose is to increase state tax revenues by boosting the sale at brick-and-mortar stores of cigarettes subject to New York taxes.
The Online Tobacco Retailers Association, two out-of-state online sellers, a Seneca Indian retailer and two disabled consumers had asked for a temporary restraining order while their legal challenge makes its way through the court.
The ban also is being challenged in state court by two Seneca Indian business people who claim it is an attack on Indian businesses, which are exempt from state sales taxes. Some of their cigarettes are sold over the Internet and by mail.