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(June 8, 2001) -- Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corp.'s strategy to sell cigarettes by catalogs, mail, fax, phone and eventually the Internet got a boost today when a federal judge ruled that New York State's 10-month-old ban on mail-order cigarette sales is unconstitutional.

Brown & Williamson, the third-largest cigarette company in the U.S., last year formed a subsidiary, BWT Direct, to sell some of its brands directly to consumers. Last October Brown & Williamson challenged New York's ban, which was temporarily lifted until the court heard the case. U.S. District Court Judge Loretta Preska ruled that the ban violated interstate commerce laws. -- Cara Beardi

Copyright June 2001, Crain Communications Inc.

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