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Robert Claiborne works primarily in the areas of litigation and compliance on behalf of tobacco manufacturers, distributors, retailers, and suppliers.

In determining whether the commerce clause of the U.S. Constitution prohibits a state’s taxation of a remote seller, the U.S. Supreme Court for decades has upheld a tax if (1) there is a substantial nexus between the taxing state and the taxpayer; (2) the tax is fairly apportioned; (3) the tax does not discriminate against interstate commerce; and (4) the tax is fairly related to the taxing state’s provision of services to the taxpayer.[1]

What kind of nexus is substantial enough to allow a state to tax a business’s sales in interstate commerce? In its 2018 decision in South Dakota v. Wayfair, Inc., the U.S. Supreme Court held that a business’s physical presence in the taxing state is not required.[2] Describing the remote-seller litigants as “large, national companies that undoubtedly maintain an extensive virtual presence,” the Court held that substantial nexus was clear in view of “both the economic and virtual contacts” that the remote-seller litigants had with South Dakota.[3] The U.S. Supreme Court recited the general rule that substantial nexus exists when a taxpayer has availed itself of the substantial privilege of carrying on business in the taxing state, and it appeared to describe “virtual contacts” and “virtual presence” as follows: “Between targeted advertising and instant access to most consumers via any internet-enabled device, ‘a business may be present in a State in a meaningful way without’ that presence ‘being physical in the traditional sense of the term.’”[4] Wayfair left many questions unanswered, including whether (and, if so, how) “virtual contacts” and “virtual presence” may be required for a substantial nexus to tax in compliance with the commerce clause.

Continue Reading State Taxation of Remote Sellers: US Supreme Court Declines Review of First Post-Wayfair Decision from a State Supreme Court

The Department has issued updated guidance addressing remote sellers’ cigarette and tobacco tax responsibilities after the Minnesota Legislature’s mid-2021 amendments to the State’s cigarette and tobacco tax and tobacco product delivery sales statutes, Congress’ late-2020 amendment of the Jenkins Act, and a 2018 decision of the U.S. Supreme Court on permissible state taxation of remote sales.

On May 9, 2022, the Minnesota Department of Revenue (the “Department”) issued Revenue Notice # 22‑02 on remote sellers’ tax payment responsibilities under the State’s cigarette and tobacco tax and tobacco product delivery sales statutes. The notice applies to all delivery sales after December 31, 2021, and it revokes and replaces the Department’s earlier notice on these subjects.
Continue Reading Minnesota Department of Revenue Revokes and Replaces Guidance on Remote Sellers’ Tobacco Tax Responsibilities

FDA reports that the progress of its review of popular vapor products’ pending PMTAs remains in line with its first report.

On July 28, 2022, FDA filed a status report in American Academy of Pediatrics, et al. v. FDA, et al., No. 8:18-cv-00883 (D. Md.), addressing its review of pending premarket tobacco applications (“PMTAs”) for certain popular vapor products.  FDA filed the status report pursuant to a court order previously covered on this blog.  This is FDA’s second status report filed pursuant to that order, the first having been filed on May 13.
Continue Reading Deeming Regulations Litigation Update – FDA Files Second Status Report on Pending Vapor Products PMTAs

Status report concerns FDA’s review of 240 PMTAs submitted on or before September 9, 2020, for vapor products with larger market shares.  FDA estimates that it will resolve most of these in the periods before July 2022 and from April through June 2023.

Pursuant to an order entered by Judge Paul W. Grimm in American Academy of Pediatrics, et al. v. FDA, et al., No. 8:18-cv-00883 (D. Md.), on May 13, 2022, FDA filed its first status report regarding its review of pending premarket tobacco applications (“PMTAs”) for certain popular vapor products.
Continue Reading Deeming Regulations Litigation Update – FDA Files Status Report on Pending PMTAs for Popular Vapor Products

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has denied the Plaintiffs’/Appellants’ petition for a rehearing en banc following a divided panel’s holding that the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act neither expressly nor impliedly preempts Los Angeles County’s ban on the sale of flavored tobacco products.

On May 11, 2022, a divided panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit denied a petition for rehearing en banc filed by Plaintiffs/Appellants R.J. Reynolds Tobacco, Inc., American Snuff Co., and Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Co. (together, the “Plaintiffs/Appellants”) in R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., et al. v. Los Angeles County, et al., No. 20-55930.  As discussed more fully by Troutman Pepper in Vapor Voice, the same panel earlier held in a split 2-1 decision that Los Angeles County’s flavored tobacco ban is not preempted by the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, Pub. L. No. 111-31, 123 Stat. 1776 (June 22, 2009) (the “TCA”).
Continue Reading Ninth Circuit Denies Petition for Rehearing en Banc in Appeal over Preemption of Los Angeles County’s Flavored Tobacco Ban

New Virginia law addresses excise taxation and other requirements regarding remote retail sales of cigars and pipe tobacco to consumers in the Commonwealth.

On April 27, 2022, the Virginia General Assembly passed House Bill 1199 and Senate Bill 748 regarding the application of the Commonwealth’s tobacco products tax on “remote retail sales” of cigars and pipe tobacco and related requirements.
Continue Reading Virginia Enacts Tobacco Products Tax Law Applicable to Remote Retail Sales of Cigars and Pipe Tobacco

Under Judge Grimm’s Revised Remedial Order, FDA must submit quarterly status reports regarding its review of pending PMTAs for certain popular vapor products.

On April 15, 2022, Judge Paul W. Grimm of the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland ordered  FDA to submit status reports to the Court and to the Plaintiffs in the case every ninety days, beginning on April 29th.
Continue Reading Deeming Regulations Litigation Update—Federal Court Exercises Even More Oversight over FDA’s PMTA Review

The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania entered a permanent injunction against Philadelphia’s enforcement of an ordinance banning the sale of certain flavored tobacco products, after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit upheld a preliminary injunction against the same.

Litigation over a local flavor ban came to a close on March 8, 2022, with Judge Gene E.K. Pratter of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania entering a permanent injunction:

  • prohibiting the City of Philadelphia from enforcing City Ordinance No. 180457 (the “Ordinance”); and
  • requiring the City to void and withdraw any and all regulations regarding the Ordinance.

The case is Cigar Association of America, et al. v. City of Philadelphia, et al., No. 2:20-cv-03220 (E.D. Pa.).

Continue Reading Philadelphia Flavor Ban Case Results in Permanent Injunction Against the City

The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) has made available the Field Information Kit and Management Instructions referenced in its November 4, 2021 Postal Bulletin, correcting hyperlinks in the Postal Bulletin. The Field Information Kit and the Management Instruction are posted to the USPS website, available here and here, respectively.
Continue Reading US Postal Service Posts PACT Act/POSECCA Field Information Kit and Management Instructions