Tobacco companies will have to start displaying signs with “corrective” statements about the health effects and addictive nature of cigarettes at U.S. points of sale in the second half of 2023, according to the Department of Justice (DOJ), reports Fox News. A court order requiring the statements will take effect July 1, 2023, after which tobacco companies will have three months to start posting the statements for 21 months in English and Spanish.
The order “resolves the government’s long-running civil racketeering lawsuit against the largest United States cigarette companies,” according to the DOJ. The racketeering lawsuit was filed in 1999 and ended in 2005; however, the DOJ said the new court order is the last of several corrective remedies related to that case.
Altria Group, Philip Morris USA, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. and four cigarette brands owned by ITG Brands are subject to the order. An estimated 200,000 of 300,000 retail stores in the U.S. that sell cigarettes have agreements with the tobacco companies. The order requires the companies to amend their agreements, requiring corrective statements to be placed at the stores on color signs that are eye-catching. Messaging will include adverse health effects of smoking, the addictive nature of nicotine and adverse health effects of secondhand smoke, among others.
“Justice Department attorneys have worked diligently for over 20 years to hold accountable the tobacco companies that defrauded consumers about the health risks of smoking,” said Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta. “Today’s resolution implements the last remedy of this litigation to ensure that consumers know the true dangers of the smoking products they may consider purchasing.”
“This is an important moment in the history of cancer control in the United States,” said William Klein, associate director of the National Cancer Institute’s behavioral research program. “Smoking causes about 30 percent of all cancer deaths in the United States, and therefore, the court-ordered corrective statements appearing at the point of cigarette sale will help support our mission to reduce the burden of cancer. We are grateful to our colleagues at the Department of Justice for having completed this significant work.”