June 24, 2003
Sean Caine, 410-576-6357
OFFICE CHARGES ONLINE COMPANY
WITH SELLING CIGARETTES TO MINORS
General J. Joseph Curran, Jr. today announced that the Consumer
Protection Division of his office has filed charges against the
operators of the website www.dirtcheapcig.com, alleging that the
website sells cigarettes to minors and has failed to comply with
Maryland cigarette tax and licensing laws.
anonymity of the Internet makes it doubly important that sellers
of cigarettes take steps to protect kids by ensuring that purchasers
are old enough to legally buy cigarettes," Curran said. The
charges allege that a minor, under supervision of Currans
office, purchased a carton of cigarettes from Missouri-based Dirt
Cheap without having to provide proof of age either to make the
purchase or receive the shipment.
charges further allege that D.C., Inc., www.DirtCheapCig.com, Inc.,
and Fred Teutenberg, IV, the companies President, violated
Marylands Consumer Protection Act by failing to obtain Maryland
licenses and charge Maryland cigarette taxes as required to sell
cigarettes to Maryland residents. Curran said that one of the reasons
the General Assembly increased the taxes on cigarette sales to $1.00
per pack is to deter minors from buying cigarettes.
to the charges, more than 80 percent of regular smokers began smoking
as children and more than 2,000 children begin smoking each day.
Studies have shown that, the younger a person is when they begin
smoking, the more likely it is they will be unable to quit later
in life and will suffer a disease attributable to tobacco use.
charges ask that Teutenberg and the companies be ordered to cease
and desist from violating the Consumer Protection Act and to pay
restitution, civil penalties and costs. A hearing on the charges
is scheduled to begin on Thursday, September 18, 2003 at the Office
of Administrative Hearings, 11101 Gilroy Road in Hunt Valley, Maryland.
of his administration, Attorney General Curran has attacked youth
access to cigarettes and tobacco products on numerous fronts. The
1998 Master Settlement Agreement required Big Tobacco to halt its
advertising targeting youths. Additionally, Attorney General Curran
has targeted retailers by entering into agreements with BP Amoco,
ExxonMobil and Walgreens that require the retailers to adopt policies
to reduce the sale of tobacco products to minors at its locations
in Maryland and by developing a comprehensive enforcement effort
with tobacco retailers who want to adopt policies and practices
designed to reduce youth sales. Curran's office recently distributed
his Tobacco Retailers Guide; Reducing Youth Access to Tobacco Products
to Maryland's 7,000 tobacco retailers. The Guide sets forth the
law prohibiting the sale of cigarettes to those under 18 years of
age and details the criminal penaltiesfrom $300 to $3,000
per violationfor selling cigarettes to minors. Any retailer
selling tobacco products to minors could be subject to civil and
criminal sanctions depending upon where the violation occurs. This
action announced today represents the latest effort of the Office
to prevent minors access to cigarettes by going directly to
the point of sale.
having questions about this matter may call the Division at (410)