Under a federal court order issued in December, the major U.S. tobacco companies will soon have to post signs telling the public about the health consequences of cigarette smoking at nearly 200,000 retail outlets across the country that sell cigarettes.
This court order will fully implement the “corrective statements” the tobacco companies were first ordered to make in 2006, when a U.S. district judge issued a judgment that these companies had violated civil racketeering laws and lied to the public for decades about the health risks and addictiveness of cigarettes and their marketing to children. The parties to the case – the U.S. Department of Justice, six public-health intervenors and the tobacco companies – recently negotiated an agreement for the corrective statement signs to be displayed in retail stores for 21 months; the December court order implements this agreement. The corrective statements have previously been disseminated through newspaper and television ads and on cigarette packs, and they continue to appear on tobacco company websites.
Details on the December court order:
- The court order applies to defendants Altria, Philip Morris USA and R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, as well as to four cigarette brands owned by ITG Brands LLC.
- The court order provides for a six-month “ramp-up period,” which will run from January 1, 2023, through June 30, 2023, during which the manufacturers will amend their Participating Retailer Contracts, and manufacture and distribute the required signs.
- A three-month “posting period” follows – from July 1, 2023, through September 30, 2023 – during which the initial round of signs must be installed.
- A 21-month “implementation period” will then run from October 1, 2023, through June 30, 2025.
- Signs with the required corrective statements must be displayed at approximately 195,500 stores throughout the implementation period. At the middle of the implementation period, there will be a three-month “rotation period,” from July 1, 2024, through September 30, 2024, during which different signs will begin to be displayed in each store.
The text of the corrective statements can be found on p. 47 of the court order.