WASHINGTON, DC (February 21, 2018) – Turning Point Brands, Inc. (NYSE:TPB), parent company of North Atlantic Operating Company (NAOC), the exclusive licensee of the iconic Zig-Zag® brand of cigarette papers in North America, along with attorneys at Venable LLP, announced that police from the city of Yiwu in Zhejiang Province in China have commenced a coordinated set of actions in multiple Chinese cities targeting what appears to be the country's biggest networks supplying counterfeit cigarette paper products to the United States.
Police have disclosed that investigations, raids, and detentions have already taken place against manufacturing facilities, packaging suppliers, and trading companies in Yiwu and other cities. The police have discovered that the counterfeiters have been copying virtually every major international cigarette paper brand, including the Zig-Zag brand for the United States. The actions have been supported with information and other assistance from the Yiwu Tobacco Monopoly Bureau and the enforcement support team at Alibaba. It is expected that the police investigations will be completed by mid-2018, after which prosecutions may be brought against the key individuals behind the network. It is also expected that information identifying those companies and individuals in the United States purchasing counterfeit cigarette papers will be supplied.
"North Atlantic Operating Company has a zero-tolerance policy with respect to counterfeiting of its products," said James Dobbins, Senior Vice President and General Counsel of NAOC. "The company's brand protection team has investigated distributors of fake papers for several years, filing legal actions wherever possible in the United States. We anticipate taking actions against those in the United States who are identified and revealed in these investigations. The latest actions by the Chinese police clearly demonstrate the resolve of the Chinese government to address the problem at its roots. We have offered Chinese authorities any and all further assistance they may need to investigate the current counterfeiting network, as well as others that are understood to be operating in China."
The Venable team advising North Atlantic included New York-based partner Marci Ballard, and associates Victoria Danta and Maria Sinatra. NAOC's internal team is directed and lead by LeAnne Moore, Assistant General Counsel for NAOC.
About NAOC and Turning Point Brands, Inc.
NAOC is an indirect, wholly-owned subsidiary of Turning Point Brands, Inc. NAOC is the exclusive licensee and distributor of Zig-Zag brand cigarette rolling papers and accessories, as well as nicotine vapor products, in the United States and Canada. It also is the owner of the Zig-Zag brand for cigars and make-your-own cigarette and cigar products. Louisville, Kentucky-based Turning Point Brands, Inc. (NYSE: TPB) is a leading U.S. provider of Other Tobacco Products. TPB, through its three focus brands, Stoker's® in Smokeless Products, Zig-Zag® in Smoking Products, and the VaporBeast® distribution engine in NewGen Products, generates solid cash flow which it uses to finance acquisitions, increase brand support and strengthen its capital structure. TPB does not sell cigarettes. More information about the company is available at its corporate website, www.turningpointbrands.com.