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AUSTIN V. TENNESSEE, 179 U. S. 343 (1900)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Austin v. Tennessee, 179 U.S. 343 (1900)

Austin v. Tennessee

No. 26

Argued November 9-10, 1899

Decided November 19, 1900

179 U.S. 343


Tobacco being a legitimate article of commerce, the court cannot take judicial notice of the fact that it is more noxious in the form of cigarettes than in any other. It is, however, to the same extent as intoxicating liquors, within the police power of the state.

It is within the province of the legislature to declare how far. cigarettes may be sold, or to prohibit their sale entirely, after they have been taken from the original packages or have left the hands of the importer, provided no discrimination be used as against those imported from other states and there be no reason to doubt that the act in question is designed for the protection of the public health.

Original packages are such as are used in bona fide transactions carried on between the manufacturer and wholesale dealers residing in different states. Where the size of the package is such as to indicate that it was prepared for the purpose of evading the law of the state to which it is sent, it will not be protected as an original package against the police laws of that state.

Where cigarettes were imported in paper packages of three inches in length and one and one-half in width, containing ten cigarettes, unboxed but thrown loosely into baskets, held that such paper parcels were not original packages within the meaning of the law, and that such importations were evidently made for the purpose of evading the law of the state prohibiting the sale of cigarettes.

This was a writ of error to review the conviction of Austin for the sale of cigarettes in violation of an act of the General Assembly of Tennessee (Acts of 1897, c. 30), the material portion of which reads as follows:

"Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Tennessee, That it shall be a misdemeanor for any person, firm, or corporation to sell, offer to sell, or to bring into the state for the purpose of selling, giving away, or otherwise disposing of, any cigarettes, cigarette paper, or substitute for the same, and a violation of any of the provisions of this act shall be a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of not less than fifty dollars."

Defendant was convicted in the Circuit Court of Monroe chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

Page 179 U. S. 344

County, fined $50, and committed until the fine should be paid, and upon appeal to the Supreme Court of Tennessee, the judgment of the circuit court was affirmed. 101 Tenn. 563.

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