Next Phase of Tobacco 'Corrective Statements' Will Go Into Effect June 18

The U.S. District Court order requires statements to appear online and in social media campaigns.
The U.S. District Court order requires statements to appear online and in social media campaigns.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — In November, U.S. cigarette companies began buying newspaper and television ads touting the consequences of smoking and secondhand smoke. Now, these "corrective statements" are going online.

On May 1, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia entered a consent order requiring major U.S. cigarette companies to begin posting corrective statements on their websites starting June 18.

The order — part of a long-running lawsuit against the cigarette companies — also requires them to attach the same statements to cigarette packages for two weeks at a time for a total of 12 weeks over two years, according to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ).

Additionally, the order applies to any social media campaigns by the companies to promote cigarettes. 

The corrective statements must address the effects of cigarette smoking and the fact that cigarettes are deliberately designed to create and sustain addiction, the DOJ said.

As Convenience Store News previously reported, a former court order required the corrective statement ads to run five times a week for one year, or 52 weeks, for a total of 260 spots. Tobacco companies were also required to purchase five full-page ads in the first section of the Sunday edition of the 50-plus newspapers specified by the court. Each newspaper ad contained one of five corrective statements. The ads began appearing Nov. 26.

The corrective statements specifically state, among other things: 

  • That smoking cigarettes causes numerous diseases and on average 1,200 American deaths every day;
  • That the nicotine in cigarettes is highly addictive and that cigarettes have been designed to create and sustain addiction;
  • That so-called light, low-tar and natural cigarettes are just as harmful as regular cigarettes; and
  • That secondhand smoke causes disease and death in people who do not smoke.

The corrective statements were ordered as part of a 2006 permanent injunction against cigarette companies, including Altria Group Inc., its Philip Morris USA subsidiary, and R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., to "prevent and restrain" further deception of the American people regarding tobacco use, according to the DOJ. 

The 2006 order also applies to ITG Brands, which purchased Winston, Kool and other cigarette brands from the companies in the case.