Tobacco Companies May Be Forced To Post Apology Displays

Richmond, VA – Tobacco companies may soon be forced to post large display signs offering apologies about the potentially harmful nature of their products. A federal judge is mulling over the idea of a massive big Tobacco apology.

Joe Camel and the Marlboro Man could soon be featuring an apologetic expression if a ruling on corrective statements in reference to old cigarette and tobacco advertisements includes a display sign requirement. In 1999, the United States government brought a case against big tobacco to mandate the disclosure of health effects which could impact smokers. US District Judge Gladys Kessler ordered tobacco companies to pay for disclosure statements last month, according to the Associated Press.

In addition to statements about health effects, the information must also note that on average 1,200 smokers die per day. Tobacco companies and the United States Justice department have been meeting to discuss how the corrective statements about the health effects of smokers should be carried out.

A portion of the ruling reportedly requires retail stores that have agreements with tobacco companies to sell their products, to place apology placards “front and center” in their stores. Retail trade groups are largely balking at the requirement and loss of prime floor spare. Retailers reportedly consider such a mandate an infringement upon both their property and First Amendment free speech rights.

Attorney Howard Crystal, who represents multiple public health groups, had this to say about the tobacco apology ruling and the ongoing dispute about posting displays in stores:

“It’s just a vital location for these corrective statements so that youth and others who are going to buy cigarettes see them.”

Earlier this month an appeals court denied a governmental request to reconsider a mandate blocking the requirement that cigarette packs put graphic health warnings on packages showing that smoking can disfigure and kill people, CBS News notes.In August the panel affirmed a lower court decision that blocked the Food and Drug Administration from placing such graphic images on tobacco products when noting such a requirement would infringe upon First Amendment rights.