Massachusetts Likely to Require Stores to Post Graphic Cigarette Warnings
Massachusetts is likely to become the first state to require retailers to display graphic cigarette warnings at tobacco sales racks and next to cash registers, The Boston Globe reports.
The state Department of Health is proposing the posters—which include pictures of darkened lungs, damaged brains and diseased teeth—be required before the end of the year. The posters would appear in more than 9,000 gas stations, convenience stores and pharmacies. The proposal is expected to be approved by the Massachusetts Public Health Council in August.
The signs would have to be set up within two feet of tobacco displays and cash registers. Retailers who did not display them could face fines of $100 to $300.
The Retailers Association of Massachusetts opposes the signs, saying stores already have to follow too many regulations. “If you warn on everything, those warnings become essentially meaningless. They already have signage on alcohol, tobacco, lottery, they have signage on price accuracy,” said the organization’s president, Jon Hurst.
The signs are modeled on a similar campaign that began in New York City in December.
“If somebody is trying to quit smoking and they go back to the store and they’re tempted — oh, just one pack — we hope this will help them make a different choice,’’ said Lois Keithly, Director of the Massachusetts Tobacco Cessation and Prevention Program.
The campaign will receive $316,000 in federal stimulus funds from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which will cover the cost of providing materials to retailers.