DOJ: News Release

Consumer Alert: Unsolicited Faxes Pitching Internet Tobacco Sales

HELENA – Officials with the Montana Department of Justice said today the department has received reports of Montanans getting unwanted, unsolicited faxes advertising an Internet site that sells cigarettes. The sales pitch touts “major name brands” and “premium brands” at “unbelievable savings.”

“These particular unsolicited faxes are bad in so many ways,” Assistant Attorney General Pam Bucy said. “They appear to violate a number of state and federal laws regarding both telephone solicitation and tobacco sales.”

Unsolicited faxes break a 15-year-old Montana law prohibiting “unlawful automated telephone solicitation.” And under the federal “Junk Fax Prevention Act,” it is unlawful to send unsolicited advertisements to any fax machine without the recipient’s invitation or permission. Consumers who have received unsolicited faxes – about any topic – can file a complaint with the Federal Communications Commission. The FCC online complaint form is at www.fcc.gov/cgb/complaints.html.

Bucy also reminded consumers that virtually all sales of cigarettes over the Internet are illegal because the sellers are violating one or more state and federal laws, including:

  • age verification laws
  • the federal Jenkins Act (which requires that cigarette sales be reported to state tax authorities)
  • state laws prohibiting the direct shipment of cigarettes to consumers
  • state and federal tax laws, and
  • state laws requiring the registration of tobacco products and manufacturers.

Online tobacco sales sites can also present a serious risk to Montana’s young people.

“Most often, age verification on these sites is inadequate at best,” Bucy said. “It’s important that Montana teens don’t get access to lower-priced tobacco products through these pages.”

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