Connecticut Attorney General's Office

Press Release

Attorney General's Statement On Supreme Court Ruling Limiting State Regulation Of Internet Tobacco Sales

February 20, 2008

Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, after the U.S. Supreme Court today struck down state regulation of Internet-based tobacco sales, said he will aggressively seek federal regulation to prevent tobacco sales to minors.

Connecticut is one of 31 states that supported Maine in a U.S. Supreme Court battle to uphold state laws regulating delivery of Internet tobacco purchases. Connecticut law bars common carriers, or delivery companies, from knowingly delivering cigarettes to a residence, unless the residence is the location of a licensed cigarette distributor.

The court ruled that states cannot regulate interstate carriers because federal law preempts state regulation. Despite backing the ruling, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg urged quick legislative action to address the public health concern.

Blumenthal - who has repeatedly urged such federal regulation - said he will redouble his efforts to seek federal regulation of Internet-based tobacco sales.

"This crippling blow to state anti-tobacco efforts means that federal action is now absolutely vital to fight Internet cigarette sales to children," Blumenthal said. "Today's Supreme Court decision severely undermines Connecticut's efforts to fill the gap left by federal inaction. The Internet is the perfect underground means for Big Tobacco to illegally peddle cigarettes to minors, which now the federal government must fight.

"I will aggressively fight for federal prohibition of Internet-based tobacco sales. Once again, the federal government should act or get out of our state's way to protect public health and safety."