MEMPHIS, Tenn. — By the end of September, you may notice new signs from tobacco companies at stores that sell cigarettes.

About 220,000 stores across the nation will be required to put up signs near cigarette displays that warn customers about the dangers of smoking by September 30. They are required to remain on display until June 30, 2025.

Some of the messages get straight to the point: “Cigarette companies intentionally designed cigarettes with enough nicotine to create and sustain addiction” and “Smoking kills on average 1,200 Americans. Every day.”

The posting of the corrective statement signs stems from an agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice, public health interveners, and tobacco companies negotiated in 2022. A federal court order formalized the agreement in December.

It order applies to tobacco companies Altria and its Philip Morris USA subsidiary, R.J. Reynolds and ITG Brands.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says cigarette smoking kills more than 480,000 Americans each year.

“This new requirement is a long-overdue step in holding the tobacco industry accountable for decades of lies and deceptive advertising practices,” said Maddie Bushnell, Tennessee Government Relation Director with the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network.

According to data from Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, a non-profit organization working to reduce tobacco use, Tennessee is one of the worst states in the country when it comes to smoking.

  • 20% of Tennessee adults smoke compared to the national average of 12.5%
  • 4.9% of Tennessee high school students smoke compared to the national rate of 1.9%
  • 19% of Tennessee high school students use e-cigarettes
  • 35.2% of cancer deaths are attributable to smoking each year
  • $3.1 billion in state healthcare costs related to smoking
  • $8.5 billion in smoking-related productivity loss

“While the signs are a good step forward, they are not enough to counteract the $9.1 billion that Big Tobacco spends every year marketing its deadly products to a new generation of users. Our state needs to stand up for its residents prioritizing smokefree workplaces for all Tennesseans and increasing funding for prevention and cessation,” Bushnell said.