The signage is nearly two decades behind Europe and the UK, which have required such warnings on cigarette packs since 2003
According to a new order from the Justice Department, major tobacco companies will be required to post warning signs in stores about the dangers of smoking.
As of July 2023, approximately 200,000 U.S. retailers who have entered into marketing agreements with major tobacco companies will display signs warning consumers of the myriad dangers of cigarette smoking.
Statements such as “Cigarette smoking causes numerous diseases and an average of 1,200 American deaths per day,” and “Nicotine in cigarettes is highly addictive” will be printed on signs in stores that sell cigarettes.
The tobacco company mandate is the result of a groundbreaking federal lawsuit that has lasted more than a decade.
The Justice Department’s order comes amid mounting evidence that cigarette smokers and nicotine vape users are at the same risk of developing heart disease, suggesting that vaping is not a safer smoking alternative.
Deputy Assistant Attorney General Brian M Boynton, Chief of the Justice Department’s Civil Division, said WednesdayCigarette companies have misled the public about the health risks of smoking for decades and were ordered by a federal court to take a series of corrective actions.
“Today’s order requiring implementation of that remaining remedy is a major achievement that will inform American consumers and save lives.”
The DOJ’s order marks the latest step in implementing sanctions faced by major tobacco companies in a case brought by the Justice Department in 1999.
The government alleged that the giant corporations had violated the Racketeering of Affected and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), a tool initially used to prosecute the mafia.
In 2006, a federal court found the companies guilty of deliberately misleading the public about the risks of smoking for decades, and tobacco companies fought back.
More than a decade later, in 2017, certain necessary corrective actions were taken by the companies, such as warnings in both print and digital advertisements about the dangers of smoking. These warnings were in both English and Spanish.
Attorney General Vanita Gupta said: “The Justice Department lawyers have worked diligently for more than 20 years to hold accountable the tobacco companies who have defrauded consumers about the health risks of smoking.
“Today’s resolution implements the final remedy of this lawsuit to ensure consumers know the real dangers of the smoking products they may be considering purchasing.”
Tobacco companies will be forced to display the warning signs in more than 200,000 U.S. stores
The implementation of the DOJ’s order represents a victory for the federal government and its anemia 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 how tobacco products are made and marketed.
Since then, the government has taken several steps to loosen the grip of the big tobacco companies on the US.
For example, in 2020, the Biden administration passed legislation raising the age for tobacco sales nationwide to 21.
As of July 2023, approximately 200,000 U.S. retailers who have signed marketing agreements with major tobacco companies will display signs warning consumers of the myriad dangers of cigarette smoking (file image)
The UK is slightly ahead in the fight against widespread tobacco use.
The UK government has instituted smoke-free public places and levied a hefty tax on tobacco products at 16.5 per cent of the retail price plus £5.26 on a pack of 20.
In 2003, new European Union rules came into effect requiring warnings such as ‘smokers die younger’ and ‘smoking clogs arteries and causes heart attacks and strokes’ to cover 30 percent of the packaging.
The UK government also gained control over non-smokable tobacco products such as e-cigarettes in 2013, an authority the FDA lacks in the US.
According to the federal government, about 14 percent of American men and 11 percent of women smoke cigarettes data.
Cigarette smoking is estimated to cause more than 480,000 deaths each year, including deaths from secondhand smoke. It remains the leading cause of preventable death in the US.
Dr. William Klein, deputy director of the National Cancer Institute (NCI) Behavioral Research Program said, “This is an important moment in the history of fighting cancer in the United States.
“Smoking is the cause of approximately 30 percent of all cancer deaths in the United States, which is why the court-ordered corrective statements appearing at the point of sale of cigarettes will support our mission to reduce the burden of cancer.”