The US District Court for the District of Columbia has issued an order to major tobacco manufacturers in the state forcing them to display corrective statements on their websites and packaging informing customers of the health dangers of their products.
Several tobacco brands, including Camel, Newport and Pall Mall for RJ Reynolds Tobacco, Marlboro and Parliament for Philip Morris USA, and Kool and Winston for ITG Brands LLC, will have until 21 November to present the statements on their packaging and until 18 June to update their websites.
The order comes after years of disputes between tobacco manufacturers, US health groups and other governmental institutions over information on cigarette packaging labels.
A joint statement from several anti-smoking organisations, including the American Cancer Society and Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights, said: “Today’s order is another important step in holding the tobacco companies accountable for decades of deception and wrongdoing, and ensuring the public knows the facts about the deadly consequences of smoking and second-hand smoke.”
Packaging labelling in the tobacco industry has been at the centre of a heated debate in the past few years, both in the US and elsewhere.
Earlier this week, the US Food and Drug Administration issued a warning to over ten e-cigarette liquid manufacturers urging them to redesign their packaging, which reportedly resembled children’s’ juice and candy boxes.
Retailers in Ireland started selling cigarettes and tobacco in plain packaging in February this year, following the example of Australia and the UK, which undertook similar plans in 2012 and 2016.
Although talks to ban advertising from tobacco packages were being held in New Zealand last March, the tobacco industry has recently threatened to file a lawsuit against the government in order to prevent the legislation.
At the end of April, South Africa approved the Control of Tobacco Products and Electronic Delivery Systems Bill, which aims to introduce plain packaging and is currently being rolled out for public comment.