66-294. Duties of manufacturers.

(a) Participating Manufacturers. - Unless the Office of the Attorney General provides a waiver, a participating manufacturer must submit to the Office of the Attorney General a list of all of the manufacturer's brand families by April 30th of each year. The participating manufacturer must notify the Office of the Attorney General of any changes to the list of brand families it offers for sale 30 days prior to the change.

(b) Nonparticipating Manufacturers. - A nonparticipating manufacturer must:

(1) Appoint and continuously maintain a process service agent within the State of North Carolina to accept service of any notification or enforcement of an action under this Article. The manufacturer shall file a certified copy of each instrument appointing a process service agent with the Secretary of State and the Office of the Attorney General.

(2) Submit an annual application to the Office of the Attorney General for inclusion of the nonparticipating manufacturer's products on the compliant nonparticipating manufacturer's list, in accordance with subsection (c) of this section.

(3) Notify the Office of the Attorney General of any changes to the list of brand families it offers for sale 30 days prior to the change.

(4) Have made the escrow payments required under G.S. 66-291(a)(2) for all cigarettes belonging to the brand families included in the list submitted in the application for inclusion and any brand families added to the list since it was submitted to the Office of the Attorney General.

(5) Submit an escrow agreement to the Office of the Attorney General.

(6) Not deliver cigarettes unless the cigarettes are included on the compliant nonparticipating manufacturer's list in effect on the date of delivery.

(7) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, if a newly qualified nonparticipating manufacturer is to be listed in the North Carolina Tobacco Directory (the Directory), or if the Attorney General reasonably determines that any nonparticipating manufacturer who has filed a certification pursuant to G.S. 66-291, et seq., poses an elevated risk for noncompliance with this Article, neither such nonparticipating manufacturer nor any of its brand families shall be included in the Directory unless and until such nonparticipating manufacturer, or its United States importer that undertakes joint and several liability for the manufacturer's performance in accordance with G.S. 66-291, et seq., has posted a bond in accordance with this section.

The bond shall be posted by a corporate surety located within the United States in a form and manner acceptable to the Attorney General, or a cash equivalent posted by the nonparticipating manufacturer, in an amount equal to the greater of fifty thousand dollars ($50,000) or the greatest amount of escrow the manufacturer in either its current or predecessor form was required to deposit as a result of its highest calendar year's sales in North Carolina or greatest quarterly escrow deposit depending on the manufacturer's required escrow deposit frequency. The bond or its cash equivalent shall be posted at least 10 days in advance of each calendar year or quarter depending on the manufacturer's required escrow deposit frequency. The bond shall be written in favor of North Carolina and such bond or cash equivalent shall be conditioned on the performance by the nonparticipating manufacturer or its United States importer that undertakes joint and several liability for the manufacturer's performance, in accordance with G.S. 66-294.2, of all of its duties and obligations under this Article during the year in which the certification is filed and the next succeeding calendar year. The bond may be drawn upon by the Attorney General to cover unsatisfied escrow obligations, penalties, and any other liability under the tobacco laws of the State.

Some factors, though not exclusive, which the Attorney General may consider in determining whether any nonparticipating manufacturer or importer poses an elevated risk of noncompliance are (i) the nonparticipating manufacturer or any affiliate thereof or importer has illegally failed to satisfy an escrow obligation with respect to any state in the past; (ii) any state has removed the nonparticipating manufacturer or its brand families or an affiliate or any of the affiliate's brand families from the state's tobacco directory for noncompliance with the state's laws; (iii) any state has pending litigation against, or an unsatisfied judgment against the nonparticipating manufacturer or any affiliate thereof or importer for escrow or penalties related to noncompliance with state escrow laws; (iv) the nonparticipating manufacturer sells its cigarettes or tobacco products directly to consumers via remote or other non-face-to-face means; (v) a state or federal court has determined that the nonparticipating manufacturer or importer has violated any tobacco tax or tobacco control law or engaged in unfair business practice or unfair competition; or (vi) the nonparticipating manufacturer or importer fails to submit or complete any required forms, documents, certifications, or notices, in a timely manner or, to the satisfaction of the Attorney General.

(c) Nonparticipating Manufacturer's Application. - A nonparticipating manufacturer must submit an application to the Office of the Attorney General by April 30th of each year for inclusion on the compliant nonparticipating manufacturers' list. The Attorney General may provide a waiver of the deadline for good cause. The application must include a certification that the nonparticipating manufacturer has fulfilled the duties listed in subsection (b) of this section and a list of the brand families of the manufacturer offered for sale in the State during either the current calendar year or the previous calendar year. The certification must be in the form required by the Office of the Attorney General. (2002-145, s. 3; 2015-241, s. 6.24(e).)