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Philip Morris Cos. Inc. sent a letter to company retirees saying that it will no longer send them free cigarettes through the mail, ending a tradition dating back at least four decades, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported.
The change is part of the 1998 multistate Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) that puts restrictions on when, where and how tobacco companies can distribute free cigarettes, the paper said.
The restrictions were designed to prevent minors from obtaining cigarettes. New York-based Philip Morris became concerned about violating the settlement agreement if cigarettes mailed by the company ended up in the hands of minors, the report said.
The move came days after the company said it would increase pension benefits next year -- the first time since 1998 -- for its U.S. retirees, the paper said. The decision to increase benefits wasn't related to the discontinuation of free cigarettes, Philip Morris spokeswoman Kim Farlow said.