Maine Tobacco Shipping Law Gets Little Sympathy At High Court

November 28, 2007 WASHINGTON -(Dow Jones)- The state of Maine got little sympathy from the U.S. Supreme Court Wednesday in its attempt to revive a law that restricts the shipment of tobacco products in the state.

Several justices said federal law that deregulated the shipping industry - and broadly exempts shippers from state regulation - makes it difficult for Maine's law to survive constitutional scrutiny.

The law, passed by Maine in 2003, requires shippers such as United Parcel Service Inc. (UPS) to follow special handling procedures when delivering cigarettes or other tobacco products with the aim of keeping tobacco from being shipped illegally to minors. The industry challenged the law, arguing it is onerous, increases costs and runs afoul of the federal limit on state shipping regulations.

The practical impact of Maine's appeal may be limited. The major shipping companies, including UPS and FedEx Corp. (FDX), voluntarily agreed not to ship cigarettes in a settlement with New York over tobacco restrictions enacted in that state.

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