In 1998, four of the largest tobacco manufacturers settled lawsuits filed by North Carolina, 45 other states, the District of Columbia and five United States Territories. The companies agreed to restrictions on marketing and to pay compensation to offset State costs arising from health problems associated with the use of their tobacco products. This agreement is known as the Master Settlement Agreement, or MSA.
Tobacco manufacturers who wish to sell their product in North Carolina are subject to two important pieces of legislation. The first piece of legislation is the Tobacco Escrow Statute, see N.C.G.S. § 66-290; N.C.G.S. § 66-291. Under the Tobacco Escrow Statute tobacco manufacturers must either become a party to the MSA, and comply with its terms, or establish an escrow account and pay into it in accordance with N. C. Gen. Stat. § 66-291 as a “non-participating manufacturer.” A tobacco manufacturer who markets its product in North Carolina and fails to comply with either of these two requirements is subject to litigation and civil penalties.
The second piece of legislation is the Brand Listing Statute. See N.C.G.S. § 66-292; N.C.G.S. § 66-293; N.C.G.S. § 66-294; N.C.G.S. § 66-294.1; N.C.G.S. §66-294.2. It is complementary to the first piece. Effective Jan. 1, 2003, the Brand Listing Statute mandates that all manufacturers who wish to sell their product in North Carolina must first qualify to be included on the Approved Tobacco List issued by the Attorney General. If a distributor, manufacturer or other person who is required to pay tobacco excise tax sells or possesses for sale in North Carolina a brand not included on the Attorney General list, the product is contraband, and civil penalties will apply.
A tobacco product manufacturer can start the process to be added to the list by submitting a completed application form. For questions contact the Tobacco Project at (919) 716-6900.
REVISED INSTRUCTIONS: North Carolina Participating Manufacturer Annual Brand Certification
Annual Approved Tobacco Lists
NPM (Non-Participating Manufacturers)
PM (Participating Manufacturers)
- NPM Applications FAQs
- NC Multiple Entity Escrow Agreement
- NC Single Entity Escrow Agreement
- Tobacco Escrow Bond Form
Anonymous Tip Line
If you have specific information about any sales of cigarettes in North Carolina which are not on the Annual Approved Tobacco List, please call (919) 716-6900. Tell the receptionist that you have an anonymous cigarette tip and she will direct your call to the appropriate person.