How You Can Help Hold Big Tobacco Accountable

May 20, 2024

Nearly 20 years ago, a U.S. Federal District judge found that the major cigarette manufacturers violated civil racketeering laws for deliberately defrauding the public. Big Tobacco knew their products were harmful, and lied to the public for decades about the health risks and addictiveness of cigarettes and their targeting to children in order to continue making profits.   

The Department of Justice went after their behavior, and the American Cancer Society, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, and five other public health groups got involved to ensure public health interests were represented. Tobacco companies fought for decades to avoid accountability. 

What are the consequences for Big Tobacco? 

As part of this landmark judgment, the cigarette manufacturers were ordered to post “corrective statements” that tell the public the adverse health effects of smoking and secondhand smoke, the addictiveness of smoking and nicotine, and the industry’s manipulation of cigarettes to make them more addictive. Starting in 2017, Big Tobacco was required to promote these corrective statements in newspapers, TV ads, on their websites, and attach them to cigarette packs.  

Finally, in the fall of 2023, Big Tobacco was required to post eye-catching signs telling the public the truth about the deadly consequences of cigarette smoking at about 220,000 retail stores across the nation that sell cigarettes. An example of the corrective statements can be seen below. All corrective statements can be found here

Smoking kills, on average, 1,200 Americans. Every day.

These corrective statements are a major public health win, as they are meant to remind the public that tobacco products are deadly and using them can have serious health impacts, as well as prevent the industry from engaging in more fraud.  

How can you get involved? 

You can keep Big Tobacco accountable. To help ensure retailers are properly displaying the signs, the tobacco companies were required to create a tip line for the general public to report retailers out of compliance. You have two options to access the tip line, both available in English and Spanish:  

Here are some things to consider when reporting a retailer for non-compliance: 

  1. Check if the store or kiosk is a retailer that should be displaying a sign by searching the name of the retailer and location in the tip form

  1. Is there at least one sign visible near where cigarettes are displayed for sale?  

  1. These signs are required to be posted for 21 months, from October 1, 2023 through June 30, 2025.  

These signs can keep the industry accountable by reminding the public of the truth: tobacco use kills about 1,200 people in the U.S. every day and causes many forms of cancer. Help us keep tobacco companies honest by making sure these corrective statements are visible in most places where cigarettes are sold. Your action can make an impact!