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Press release from Business Wire

Philip Morris USA Sues Websites and Retailers Selling Counterfeit Cigarettes to California Consumers

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Philip Morris USA Sues Websites and Retailers Selling Counterfeit Cigarettes to California Consumers10:14 EST Wednesday, February 16, 2011 RICHMOND, Va. (Business Wire) -- Philip Morris USA (PM USA) filed lawsuits yesterday against seven China-based online retailers for selling counterfeit versions of the company's Marlboro® brand cigarettes to California consumers -- the first time a U.S. company has sued a China-based website for selling counterfeit cigarettes to American consumers. PM USA also filed suit against eight retailers who recently sold counterfeit versions of the company's Marlboro® brand cigarettes to Los Angeles-area consumers. These lawsuits are part of the company's on-going efforts to stop the sale of counterfeit cigarettes and the unauthorized use of PM USA's trademarks. PM USA believes that counterfeit cigarette traffickers have established a foothold in the Los Angeles area, and that today Los Angeles is one of the top two markets for counterfeit cigarette activity in the U.S. The actions and lawsuits are the culmination of a several month investigation involving the LA County Sheriff's office and other law enforcement agencies to address the sale of counterfeit Marlboro® cigarettes in the Los Angeles area. These actions led to 10 arrests and the seizure of more than 9,200 packs of counterfeit Marlboro® cigarettes. “The sale of counterfeit cigarettes defrauds adult smokers who believe they are buying genuine Marlboro® cigarettes, resulting in significant lost revenue for the State, and is often driven by organized crime syndicates,” said Joe Murillo, vice president and associate general counsel, Altria Client Services speaking on behalf of PM USA. “The sale of counterfeit Marlboro® cigarettes to U.S. consumers through China-based websites is an emerging problem," added Murillo. "Selling counterfeit cigarettes is illegal, and we will continue to evolve our approach to take appropriate action to protect our brands." Since 2002, PM USA has sued more than 2,800 retailers in California for selling counterfeit PM USA-branded cigarettes, in addition to seven websites. The entities named in the lawsuits filed in the Central District of California are:   Websites Webvipshopping.com       Ren Kun Fang (owner/operator) usa001.com       Ren Kun Fang (owner/operator) Marlborocigarettesonline.com       Kenny Li (owner/operator)John Doe Walker (importer/distributor) Cheap-marlborocigarettes.com       Kenny Li (owner/operator) Chinacigarette.com       Andy Gong (owner/operator)Ma Fei (importer/distributor) Okcig.com       Li Ning (owner/operator)Yan Liang (importer/distributor) Cigarettesonshop.com       Unknown     Retailers Bran Tools New & Used       6804 S. Central Ave., Los Angeles, CA Marcela Mini Market       7910 Avalon Blvd., Los Angeles, CA Quick Quick Mini Market       13752 ½ Roscoe Blvd., Panorama City, CA El Paraiso Party Supply       2025 N. Long Beach Blvd. #B, Compton, CA San Miguel Meat Market/Carniceria       3790 E. Olympic Blvd., Los Angeles, CA S.J. Del Rio       4730 Normandie Ave., Los Angeles, CA Tacos Vallarta/Tacos Don Beto       8001 S. Central Ave., Los Angeles, CA Zafiros Mini Market       1149 Firestone Blvd., Los Angeles, CA       Philip Morris USA is an operating company of Altria Group, Inc. (NYSE: MO). More information on PM USA and its policies and positions on tobacco issues is available at www.philipmorrisusa.com. ALCS Media Relations804-484-8897