The U.S. The U.S. Department of Justice announced Tuesday that a court order required major cigarette companies in the United States to post signs in retail stores with corrective statements regarding the addictive nature of cigarettes and their health effects.
The DOJ released a press release Tuesday stating that the court order “resolves government’s long-running civil Racketeering lawsuit… against the largest United States cigarette firms.”
In 1999, the lawsuit against the companies was filed at U.S. District Court, Washington, D.C. The trial was held between 2004 and 2005. The courts found that the defendants deceived the consumers about the dangers of smoking.
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Although the court case was closed in 2005, Tuesday’s court order imposed what the DOJ calls the final of the corrective measures ordered as a result of the case.
Altria, Philip Morris USA Inc. and R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company are subject to the court order. The same applies to four brands of cigarette owned by ITG Brands LLC.
Associate Attorney General Vanita Gopta stated that the Justice Department has been working diligently for more than 20 years to hold tobacco companies accountable for defrauding consumers about the dangers of smoking. “Today’s resolution implements last remedy in this litigation to ensure consumers are aware of the true dangers of any smoking products they might consider buying.”
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According to estimates, around 200,000 of the 300,000.00 retail locations that sell cigarettes in the United States have agreements with tobacco companies. This allows them to determine how cigarettes are displayed in these stores.
The company orders require them to amend their agreements to the stores in order to place corrective statements in the stores.
The statements will be placed on color signs according to the order and should be easy to read.
The messaging also includes information about the addictive nature of nicotine and the harmful effects on the health of secondhand smoking.
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One message reads, “Smoking cigarettes can cause many diseases and on average 1,200 American death every day.”
The order will take effect on July 1, 2023. Companies will then have three months to place the statements. The signs will be displayed by retailers for 21 months in English or Spanish. However, the Spanish version will only be required in areas where there are large Spanish-speaking communities.
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Associate Director William Klein, National Cancer Institute’s behavioral research program, stated that “This is a significant moment in the history for cancer control in America.” “Smoking is responsible for about 30% of all cancer deaths in America. Therefore, the court-ordered correction statements at the point where a cigarette is sold will support our mission of reducing the burden of the disease. This significant work was completed by our Department of Justice colleagues. We are grateful.