Presence of Counterfeit Marlboro Gold Packs in Licensed Retail Stores in New York City: Evidence From Test Purchases

May 29, 2018

From: Nicotine & Tobacco Research

Marin Kurti, MA Yi He, PhD Diana Silver, PhD Margaret Giorgio, PhDKlaus von Lampe, PhD James Macinko, PhD Hua Ye, BS Fidelis Tan, BS Victoria Mei, BS



There are no independent studies measuring the availability of premium brand counterfeit cigarettes in New York City from licensed retailers.


We forensically analyzed the cigarette packaging of Marlboro Gold (n = 1021) purchased from licensed tobacco retailers in New York City, using ultraviolet irradiation and light microscopy to determine whether they were counterfeit.


We find that while only 0.5% (n = 5) of our sample exhibits at least one characteristic synonymous with counterfeit packaging, none of our packs can be conclusively classified as counterfeit.


We do not find any counterfeit Marlboro Gold packs purchased at full price from licensed cigarette retailers throughout New York City. Future research using test purchases should include other venues (eg, street and online) and specifically ask for discounts to ascertain the overall presence of counterfeit cigarettes.


This is the first study to independently measure the availability of counterfeit cigarette packs purchased at full price from licensed retailers in New York City. We find that none of the Marlboro Gold packs purchased from licensed cigarette retailers are counterfeit.

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