Apology may be posted in stores
RICHMOND, Va. — A federal judge will soon decide whether your next tank of gas or bottle of soda comes with an apology from the Marlboro man and Joe Camel.
A recent ruling ordering a multimedia blitz stating that the nation's largest tobacco companies lied about the dangers of smoking left open the possibility that retailers could be required to post large displays with the mea culpas.
Retail trade groups are upset about the possibility the displays would commandeer their most valuable selling space and imply their own guilt-by-association.
As part of a case the government brought in 1999, U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler last month ordered the tobacco companies to pay for corrective statements on cigarette packs, in print and on TV, radio and the Internet. The statements also must disclose smoking's health effects, including the death on average of 1,200 people a day.
While the cigarette makers and the Justice Department this month began discussing how to carry out the corrective statements, a footnote in the ruling said the issue of whether retailers that have agreements with tobacco companies to sell their products — which most sellers do — will have to place the placards front and center in their stores “will be resolved in the near future.”
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