Tobacco shops will FINALLY be forced to put up health warnings about cigarettes – like ‘smoking kills 1,200 Americans a day’
- Roughly 200,000 retailers will have to display anti-cigarette warnings in 2023
- The DOJ order is the final step after a lengthy legal battle with big tobacco
- Signage on products will include warnings about cancer and addiction risks
The signage comes nearly two decades behind Europe and the UK, which have required such warnings on cigarette packs since 2003
Major tobacco companies will be forced to put up warning signs in retail shops about the dangers of smoking, according to an order from the Justice Department.
The mandate for tobacco manufacturers is a result of a landmark federal court case that stretched for more than a decade.
Starting in July 2023, roughly 200,000 US retailers with marketing agreements with major tobacco companies will be made to display signs that warn consumers about the myriad dangers of cigarette smoking.
Some of the statements printed on signs will include: ‘Smoking cigarettes causes numerous diseases and on average 1,200 American deaths every day’, and ‘nicotine in cigarettes is highly addictive.’
The order from the Justice Department comes amid mounting evidence that cigarette smokers and nicotine vape users share the same risk of developing heart disease, suggesting that vaping is not a safer smoking alternative.
Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Brian M. Boynton who heads the Justice Department’s Civil Division said Wednesday: ‘Cigarette companies misled the public for decades about the health risks of smoking and were ordered by a federal court to implement a series of corrective measures.
‘Today’s order requiring implementation of that remaining remedy is a major achievement that will educate American consumers and save lives.’
The DOJ’s order marks the final step in implementing penalties faced by major tobacco companies in a case that the Justice Department argued in 1999.
In it, the government alleged the giant companies had violated the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), a tool initially used to prosecute the mafia.
A federal court found the companies guilty in 2006 of purposely misleading the public on the risks of smoking for decades and tobacco companies fought back. In 2017, certain necessary corrective measures by the companies were implemented such as issuing warnings in print and digital ads about the dangers of smoking in both English and Spanish.
Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta said: ‘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. 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.’
Starting in July 2023, roughly 200,000 US retailers with marketing agreements with major tobacco companies will be made to display signs that warn consumers about the myriad dangers of cigarette smoking (file image)
Tobacco companies will be forced to display the warning signs in over 200,000 retail stores across the US
The implementation of the DOJ’s order marks a win for the federal government and its anemic control of the tobacco industry. It wasn’t until 2009 under then-President Barack Obama that the Food and Drug Administration gained regulatory jurisdiction over the way tobacco products are made and marketed.
Since then, the government has taken several steps to pry off the hold that big tobacco companies have on the US. For instance in 2020, the Biden administration approved legislation raising the tobacco sales age to 21 across the country.
In the fight against widespread tobacco use, the UK is slightly ahead. The government has instituted smoke-free public places and levied a hefty tax on tobacco products with 16.5 per cent of the retail price plus £5.26 on a pack of 20.
In 2003, new European Union regulations went into place that required warnings such as ‘Smokers die younger’ and ‘Smoking clogs the arteries and causes heart attacks and strokes’ to cover 30 per cent of the packaging.
The UK government also gained control in 2013 over non-smokable tobacco products such as e-cigarettes, authority that the FDA in the US does not have.
Roughly 14 per cent of US men and 11 per cent of women smoke cigarettes, according to federal data. Cigarette smoking is estimated to cause an excess of about 480,000 deaths every year, including deaths from second-hand smoke. It remains the leading cause of preventable death in the US.
Dr William Klein, Associate Director of the National Cancer Institute’s (NCI) Behavioral Research Program said: ‘This is an important moment in the history of cancer control in the United States.
‘Smoking causes about 30% 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.’