Tobacco Co. Snuffs Out Importers
A tobacco company wants to snuff out U.S. sales of cigarettes meant for overseas markets, claiming the practice confuses smokers and hurts everyone's profits, from the company down to distributors and retailers.
Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corp. filed a complaint Tuesday with the International Trade Commission in Washington, D.C., accusing four importers of violating U.S. laws by dealing in cigarettes re-imported into this country.
B&W said the Florida- and California-based import businesses buy the exported cigarettes at cheap rates and bring them back to this country, where the smokes are sold at sharp discounts.
``The consumers are not getting the product they expect,'' said B&W spokesman Stephen Kottak. ``We're trying to protect the value of our trademarks and guard against our consumers being confused.''