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Tobacco Sales and Directory & Tobacco Settlement

The sale of tobacco products is a heavily regulated business in Montana. Wholesalers and retailers of tobacco products must comply with a variety of laws administered by several different agencies, the Department of Justice, Department of Revenue, and Department of Public Health and Human Services.

Only those tobacco products listed on the Tobacco Product Directory may be sold in Montana. It is unlawful to sell, stamp for sale, offer for sale or possess for sale in Montana any cigarette, roll-your-own tobacco (including make-your-own, stuff-your-own, etc.) unless it is listed on the Tobacco Product Directory. The Office of the Attorney General maintains a directory of tobacco products (cigarettes and roll-your-own) and manufacturers that are compliant with Montana law. Only those brands and brand families of cigarettes and roll-your-own that are listed in the Tobacco Product Directory can legally be stamped for sale, offered for sale, possessed for sale or sold in Montana.

Only cigarettes certified as fire safe by the State Fire Marshal may be sold in Montana. See Fire Safety Standards for Cigarettes. Businesses selling tobacco products in Montana must be licensed and pay tobacco taxes on the products they sell. The Department of Revenue administers the laws related to wholesaler and retailer licensing and taxation of tobacco products.

Tobacco Product Directory of Brands (Cigarettes and Roll-Your-Own) Approved for Stamping or Sale, organized by:

Little Cigars – The Department of Revenue has adopted rules that classify certain “little cigars” as cigarettes for tax purposes. For more information, see Classification of Certain “Little Cigars” as Cigarettes. Little cigars that are treated as cigarettes for tax purposes may be sold even though they are not listed on the directory at this time.

Penalties – Any Montana licensed wholesaler who sells, stamps for sale, possesses for sale or offers to sell a brand that is not listed on the directory is subject to the penalties detailed in 16-11-509 of the Montana Code Annotated, up to and including: license revocation, seizure, forfeiture and destruction of contraband products, and loss of any profits or gain from a violation.

Regulatory Notices

The notices listed below are retained for historical purposes of notifications to wholesalers and retailers of tobacco products of the changes to statutes and administrative rules.

Tobacco Product Reporting

Montana Licensed Wholesalers and Retailers that purchase cigarettes and roll-your-own directly from the manufacturer must file a report listing the tobacco products stamped or sold each month with the Attorney General’s Office. The Wholesaler Report must be received by the Attorney General’s Office no later than the 15th of each month. A late fee is assessed for each report that is not filed by the 20th day of each month. This quick reference guide should assist the prospective and newly Montana Licensed Wholesaler with tobacco product reporting. The July 1, 2007, Department of Revenue rule does not change the requirements for reporting little cigars to the Attorney General’s Office.

Tobacco PACT Act Reporting

On June 30, 2010, the Prevent All Cigarette Trafficking (PACT) Act, 15 U.S.C. §§ 375, et seq., became effective. The Act requires all persons who sell, transfer, or ship cigarettes for profit to (1) register with the tobacco tax administrator of the state of Montana into which shipments are made; and (2) file monthly reports no later than the 10th of each month with both the Montana tobacco tax administrator and the Montana Attorney General’s Tobacco Enforcement Program staff. See, monthly filing guide for assistance.

Annual Tobacco Product Manufacturer Certifications

Tobacco Product Manufacturers (TPM) are required annually to complete a Certificate of Compliance pursuant to § 16-11-503 MCA by April 30 each year and a certified statement of Appointed Registered Agent.

Participating Manufacturer Certification – Section 16-11-503 of the Montana Code Annotated requires Participating Manufacturers (PMs) to certify by April 30 each year that they are a PM and provide a list of their brand families.

Non-Participating Manufacturer Certification – Section 16-11-503 of the Montana Code Annotated requires Non-Participating Manufacturers (NPMs) to certify by April 30 each year that they are an NPM in full compliance with 16-11-403 and provide a list of their brand families.

NPMs are required to pay escrow payments in quarterly installments and certify their compliance with Montana law quarterly.

Laws & Regulations

Montana’s Tobacco Products Reserve Fund:

Tobacco Settlement

Montana filed suit against “Big Tobacco” in May 1997 and the state was part of the national settlement reached by the attorneys general in November 1998. The state receives annual payments in perpetuity as part of the Master Settlement Agreement (MSA). Prior to 2001, tobacco industry payments went directly into Montana’s general fund and were allocated by the legislature.

In November 2000, Montana voters approved Constitutional Amendment 35, which dedicated at least 40 percent of the tobacco settlement to a permanent, income-producing trust fund. Of the interest earned by this trust fund, 90 percent must be used for health care benefits, services, education programs and tobacco disease prevention. The remaining 10 percent is reinvested in the trust fund. From fiscal year 2001 to 2003, the larger share of the tobacco payments (60 percent) was deposited in the general fund and appropriated by the legislature.

Under Initiative 146 approved by voters in November 2002, and subsequent legislative changes in 2003, Montana’s tobacco settlement money is now distributed as follows:

  • 40 percent – Tobacco Trust Fund
  • 32 percent – Tobacco prevention/cessation and human service programs
  • 17 percent – Children’s Health Insurance Program, Comprehensive Health Association programs and Medicaid matching funds
  • 11 percent – General Fund

Settlement Payments to Date 

Notice of MSA Deceptive Advertising Scam (June 16, 2017)

Other Resources

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