Tobacco companies to display smoking health risk signs in US stores

Tobacco companies to display smoking health risk signs in US stores

Under federal court order, tobacco companies must post health risk warning signs in US retail stores selling cigarettes from 1 July.

Point-of-sale signs advising on smoking health risks will be installed near tobacco displays in 220,000 retail stores across the US between 1 July and 30 September.

These signs must be displayed until 30 June 2025.

The federal court order applies to major tobacco companies Altria and its Philip Morris US subsidiary, RJ Reynolds and ITG Brands.

The information will include the health risks of smoking and secondhand smoke, the addictiveness of smoking and nicotine and the industry’s reported manipulation of cigarettes to make them more addictive.

The included retailers are those covered by marketing agreements with the defendant tobacco companies. The signs will be in both English and Spanish, with the latter required in geographic areas with significant Spanish-speaking populations.

The court order includes measures to ensure compliance. Independent auditors will monitor compliance at the manufacturer’s expense and a tip line will be established so that the public can report incidents of non-compliance.

Where did the tobacco retail law originate from?

The decision comes from a landmark judgment made in 2006, “corrective statements,” which tobacco companies were ordered to make after being charged with violating civil racketeering laws. There are 17 distinct corrective statements that will be posted, all previously specified by the court.

Tobacco companies have been fighting this order for 17 years, but last year saw the parties in the case – including the US Department of Justice, public health intervenors and the tobacco companies – negotiate an agreement for the corrective statement signs to be posted.

Tobacco companies in the US are now fighting against efforts to end the sale of menthol cigarettes and proposed graphic warnings on cigarette packaging.

According to GlobalData, the US tobacco market was worth $104.3bn in 2021 and is expected to register a CAGR of less than 1% during 2021-2026. Per capita expenditure of tobacco was higher in the US than at both global and regional levels in 2021.

In 2022, major retailer Walmart ended the sale of tobacco in some of its US stores but clarified that it does not intend to exit the tobacco category altogether.

Source: Retail Insight Network