In-Store Signage Settlement

Last updated: May 2023

The Issue

Altria, RJ Reynolds, and ITG Brands reached an agreement in long-running litigation brought by the U.S. Department of Justice and certain public health organizations regarding the communication of tobacco-related messaging at retail locations. The agreement covers the last remaining dispute from the lawsuit DOJ filed against the manufacturers in the 1990s. 

The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on December 6, 2022 formally approved the settlement agreement. The agreement resolves long-running litigation over the communications of tobacco-related messaging at retail locations.

Retail Impact

Entered into in July and approved in December, the agreement will require manufacturers to supply signs to stores and require those stores that have contracts with any of the three manufacturers to post the signs for a total of 21 months.

The agreement specifies 17 different health messages that will be distributed to retailers around the country by manufacturers. Each store under contract with one of the manufacturers will have to post at least one sign and then switch it to a new sign halfway through the time period required in the agreement. The manufacturers will hire auditors to check whether the signs are properly posted.

The order takes effect on July 1, 2023 and gives three months after that date for stores to post the corrective statements.

NACS Position

NACS spent 17 years fighting any signage requirement through the litigation process and, along with the National Association of Tobacco Outlets, also participated in the negotiations that led to the agreement in order to advocate for retailers.

All of the tobacco companies are working with NACS to try to resolve questions that come up and make implementation work as well as possible for retailers.

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