Should Stores That Sell Cigarettes Have To Post Apology From Big Tobacco?

Last month, the government’s seemingly interminable lawsuit against the tobacco industry appeared to be nearing something resembling an end, as the judge ruled that cigarette makers must publish apologies for their deception in ads and on packaging. What’s still undecided is whether stores must also post the apology.

The AP reports that the federal judge in the case is nearing a decision on whether or not retailers who have sales agreements with tobacco companies will be required to post placards from the tobacco companies that admit to years of deception about the negative health effects of tobacco.

Retailers are against the idea. On First Amendment grounds, they claim that the posters would make it look like the stores are apologizing for something they didn’t do. Then there is the pragmatic argument that the posters would take up space used to display products or post paid advertising.

“You can’t take up valuable selling space and impact my bottom line to achieve your goal of having these corrective statements out there,” the president of the National Association of Tobacco Outlets explains to the AP.

Advocates for the placards argue that many of these stores didn’t have a problem when asked to post huge signs advertising tobacco products at the point of sale, so it’s only right they should have to post these apologies there as well.

“It’s just a vital location for these corrective statements so that youth and others who are going to buy cigarettes see (them),” an attorney representing the American Cancer Society, the American Lung Association and the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, tells the AP.

Retailers estimate that the loss in counter space to these apology posters would mean an $82 million/year hit to sales nationwide. Those in favor of the posters point out this is only about $.65/day per retailer.

So here’s where you vote: