(Recasts; adds Altria’s response, paragraphs 5-7)
NEW YORK, Dec 15 (Reuters) - New York Governor David Paterson on Monday said he has signed into law a measure that aims to curb Indian reservation stores from selling untaxed cigarettes to non-Indians by requiring suppliers to have state tax stamps.
For years, politicians and stores that compete with tribal shops that offer much less costly, untaxed cigarettes have urged the state to enforce tax laws, which could save the state hundreds of millions of dollars in lost taxes every year.
The Democratic governor said in a statement that he only wanted to apply the tax law fairly and effectively and aimed to negotiate solutions in other areas, including casinos.
“My commitment to the sovereign powers of New York’s Indian nations has not and will not waver and I will continue to seek a comprehensive negotiated solution with all of New York’s Indian nations,” he said.
However, Marlboro-maker Altria Group (MO.N) said it did not believe New York’s new law would succeed, adding it had been misinterpreted.
Altria said the measure only requires wholesalers to certify they will not resell unstamped cigarettes in violation of the law.
“The problem is that the state has never put into effect the law that requires tax-stamping of cigarettes sold through Native American outlets,” the company said in a statement.